BHP Tries Out a Rotor Sail on a Geared Bulker


Published Aug 9, 2022 9:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mining giant BHP has partnered with Pan Pacific Copper and Nippon Marine to try out a rotor sail system aboard a geared bulker. One Norsepower rotor sail with a tilting foundation will replace one of the deck cranes aboard the Koryu, a 53,000 dwt vessel that carriers ore from Chile to Japan. 

Norsepower’s modernized Flettner rotors provide the vessel with "push-button" wind propulsion, with no reefing or crew attention in use. The installation is scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2023, and it may well be the first aboard a geared bulker.

When installed, it will make the Koryu the cleanest vessel in her category in terms of GHG emissions intensity, according to BHP. It helps that Koryu has one of the highest cargo utilization rates in her segment: she conducts a steady trade in both directions, carrying copper concentrate from Chile to Japan, then sulfuric acid from Japan back to Chile. 

"As fuel prices increase and a carbon levy is initiated, investing in technologies which have proven emissions reductions and fuel savings is essential for long term commercial success," said Norsepower CSO Jukka Kuuskoski. 

Rotor sail installations have been picking up speed in the bulker segment, where the vessels' wide-open deck spaces make the installation of the tall cylindrical towers more practical. The first rotor sail equipped bulker, the Afros, received its installation in 2018, and systems have been installed on ships up to the size of a very large ore carrier (VLOC).