The Wind Challenger project: Developing hybrid sail assisted cargo ship

  • Professor Takuji Waseda
A joint research project with MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding (2018-2021)

 Introduction of Green Technology to the ship propulsion is one of the most important technical challenges towards the establishment of the low-carbon society. The "Wind Challenger Project" is a joint Industry Program led by the University of Tokyo, initiated in October 2009, to develop the next generation sailing ship. By introducing an unprecedented large-solid wing sail, the energy consumption of the large cargo ship will drastically reduce by utilizing the wind power, which otherwise would rely heavily on the fossil fuel.

 Technical、economical and legal feasibilities were confirmed after eight years of research and development, resulting in concept design of a cape size bulk career (180000 ton) with nine telescopic hard sails (50 m height, 20 m width, 1000 square meter), and four sails bulk career (84000 ton). With 12 m/s wind from the side, the ship can sail at 14 knots without an engine, comparable speed to a regular engine propelled the ship. A simulation-based assessment with realistic wind and route discovered that the annual energy saving is about 30 % combining the nine sails and the engine between Japan and North America. From 2011 October, a demonstration of a prototype sail has started (1 /2 scale model, 25 m height, 10 m width), and since then, we have been accumulating data necessary for the design of the working sail.

 In the second phase of the wind challenger project starting from January 2018, a joint development with the three private companies (MOL & Oshima-shipbuilding) will aim to build a ship with a sail. The University of Tokyo will continue research on navigation assistance and optimum route selection. Concurrently, will develop the Wind Challenger Navigation program that combines the wind-wave database, optimum-routing program, and the energy prediction program.