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UK Funds Project to Develop Rotor Sails for Mid-Range Vessels

rotor sails on bulker
UK funding will help the project to develop a smaller size rotor sail for mid-range vessels (Anemoi)

Published Feb 1, 2024 8:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

The UK through its Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition is funding a year-long project which seeks to expand the applicability of rotor sails to more classes of vessels. Anemoi Marine Technologies reports that its project involving a range of partners including Victoria Steamship and Lloyd’s Register will develop and demonstrate a smaller sized rotor sail suitable for mid-range vessels as an innovative new drive system suited for the new application of wind -assisted propulsion.

The funding will support the design, building and tests of the new drive system which will be a smaller version of the commercially available rotor sails. The new model will have an approximately 11.5 foot diameter and stand 80 feet off the deck (3.5 meters x 24.5 meters). According to the company this will me the rotor sail better suited for mid-range vessels, such as Handysize and Ultramax bulkers, chemical and product tankers, and RoRos.

The project which is expected to cost £1.9 million ($2.4 million) is eligible for over £1.2 million ($1.5 million) in funding. This will include the manufacturing of a test rig by Pressure Design Hydraulics which will be housed at the VINCI Technology Center. According to Anemoi, the project will enable the company to assess the performance of its new design in a safe and controlled environment close to its UK design offices. 

UK-based Victoria Steamship highlights that it will contribute technical know-how on bulk carrier operations, along with essential vessel data and feedback throughout the project. The approach will include evaluation of representative vessels, advice on conforming to vessel regulatory requirements, risk mitigation and confidence-building measures.

By expanding Anemoi’s product range, the company promotes that even more vessels can make use of wind propulsion, helping to make a bigger difference to the shipping industry as it continues its decarbonization journey.

Anemoi’s current rotor design is for a larger 16.4 diameter and offered in heights of 79-, 98-, and 115-foot sizes (5-meter x 24-, 30-, or 35-meter). The larger rotor is already being installed on Kamsarmax bulkers and VLOC tankers. Last year, for example, Brazilian mining giant Vale announced that it would install five of Anemoi’s rotor sails onboard a 400,000 dwt Valemax, the world’s largest ore carrier. That installation is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024. The company completed is first Kamsarmax installation, the TR Lady, an 82,000 dwt bulk carrier, in June 2023.

The company was launched a decade ago to develop a modern version of the technology first pioneer a century ago. They completed the first demonstration installation in 2018 and continue to advance the technology. 

They look to build on their experience in the bulker segment highlighting that the first installation the Afros (63,000 dwt), an Ultramax vessel, has sailed successfully for 6 years with the rotors. Anemoi has also developed a longitudinal rail deployment system. This rail deployment system, which allows the rotor sails to be moved along the deck to ensure cargo operations are unimpacted, will be retained for the new smaller sized rotors.

The grand is part of the Round 4 awards made by the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) as part of the competition. The aim of this competition is to fund real world demonstrations, trials and feasibility studies into clean maritime technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.