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Rotor Sail Installations Growing for Bulk Carriers

rotor sails on dry bulk carriers
Rendering of the rotors installaed on the TR Lady (Anemoi Marine)

Published May 26, 2021 1:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

Rotor technology is continuing to draw increasing interest from the shipping industry as a tool to improve a ship’s performance and reduce emissions. A growing number of shipowners are adding the 100-year-old technology to their ships.

Dry bulk shipping, with large, slower-moving vessel, is the latest segment to be adopting rotor sail technology. Tufton Investment Management’s TR Lady Shipping company announced that it will be retrofitting the wind-assisted propulsion to one of its vessels. Recently, five rotor sails were also fitted to an ultra-large bulker chartered by Brazilian mining giant Vale.

Rotor sails, also known as Flettner Rotors, named after a German engineer Anton Flettner who is credited with the development of the technology, are vertical cylinders mounted to the deck of a vessel. Rotated by the wind, they apply an aerodynamic phenomenon known as the Magnus Effect to generate forward thrust for the vessel.  The additional thrust provides fuel savings, which in turn lowers emissions.

“This landmark commercial agreement demonstrates Tufton’s confidence in our technology and proves their industry leadership and commitment to a decarbonized shipping industry,” said Kim Diederichsen, CEO of Anemoi Marine Technologies. “Recently, we have seen significant interest and demand for our wind propulsion systems as our industry continues to place environmental stewardship at the top of its agenda.”  

Anemoi Marine Technologies will supply and fit three large rotor sails to the 82,000 dwt TR Lady, a Kamsarmax dry bulk carrier managed by Tufton. The installation includes Anemoi’s patented Rail Deployment System, which allows the rotors to be moved across the deck to minimize the impact on port operations.

The rotor sails will be fitted during a scheduled dry docking of the bulker, which was built in 2017 by the Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group. The work will be undertaken at a Chinese shipyard and is scheduled to be completed in mid-2022. Class approvals will be awarded by Lloyd’s Register.

One of the largest Flettner rotor installations ever implemented, and one of the first wind-assisted propulsion systems aboard a large bulk carrier was recently completed by Norsepower, another manufacturer of the rotor technology. That installation included five tilting rotor sails fitted to a new very large ore carrier. The 325,0000 dwt Sea Zhoushan is owned by Pan Ocean Ship Management and chartered by Brazilian mining giant Vale. The vessel is currently completing sea trials and is expected to shortly sail from China to Brazil, a voyage of 40 days, to load its first iron ore cargo at one of Vale's ports in Brazil.

Another large operator of bulkers, Oldendorff Carriers, is also working with Anemoi Marine Technologies, Lloyd’s Register, and Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute on a project to develop a wind-assisted propulsion solution for dry bulk carriers. The project is scheduled for completion in 2022 and plans to test rotor sails on a large Oldendorff bulker.