Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute's Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) have been developing an algorithm that would allow the Vindskip—a hybrid merchant ship which uses a specially-shaped hull to harness wind power—to use the combination of both power and sail.

"At angles close to headwind the wind generates a force in the ship's direction," says a spokesperson for Norway’s Lade AS, which designed the Vindskip. "Since the hull is shaped like a symmetrical air foil, the oblique wind on the opposite side—leeward­—has to travel a longer distance. This causes a vacuum that pulls the ship forward."


At angles close to headwind the wind generates a force in the ship's direction. Source: Lade AS.At angles close to headwind the wind generates a force in the ship's direction. Source: Lade AS.CML is working on building a weather routing module that considers the ships course, hydrography, weather predictions and other factors as it derives the best course and route so that the aerodynamic hull functions the best.

At top speed, the Vindskip is expected to reach up to 19 knots. Lade AS says that the first Vindskip freighter could begin operations by 2019.

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