Hybrid Container Ship Wind-Driven With 'Automatic' Sails

© Dykstra

Dutch company Dykstra is designing a new iteration of sail-powered ship, using old sailing knowledge and new sailing technology. The Ecoliner Fair Winds has four massive 'automatic' sails that are moved by, in addition to the wind, software and satellite-based weather data that together calculate the optimal route for the ship when it is underway.

These means Ecoliner needs very little crew to sail, and also much less fossil fuels than a regular container ship. Ecoliner can still carry dozens of regular-sized containers.

Dykstra is planning an entire armada of these wind-assisted vessels. Fair Transport, the for-profit company that partnered with Dykstra to help design the Ecoliner, is out to reduce the use of regular container ships, which contribute a billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere annually.

Fair Transport's founders Andreas Lackner, Arjen van der Veen, and Jorne Langelaan have for three years been sailing an old brig, the Tres Hombres, to demonstrate that sustainable wind-powered shipping is possible. But the trio would also like to offer the shipping world a fleet of high-tech sailing ships that can carry dozens of industrial containers while being navigated by a slim crew, and reducing container ship pollution - in other words, be economically and environmentally sustainable.

Fair Transport hopes the higher cost of building this ship can be amortized over its 30-year lifetime via lower fuel costs.

The Ecoliner is estimated to have a top speed of 18 knots, and when speeds drop below 12 knots it needs the assistance of an electric motor. The Ecoliner is scheduled to be ready next year, in 2013.

Tags: Netherlands | Shipping Containers | Weather | Wind Power

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