Jiangnan Shipbuilding unveils smart sail design

Chinese shipbuilder Jiangnan Shipbuilding has launched an in-house design of a smart sail, a wind-assisted propulsion system.

Jiangnan Smart Sail; Source: Jiangnan Shipbuilding

Named the Jiangnan Smart Sail, the technology behind the system is based on a high-performance computing platform that evaluates the aerodynamic characteristics of sails and selects airfoil parameters.

The system is autonomous and remotely controllable, and it can save up to 4% of energy for ships, according to its developer. It can automatically adjust the sail surface to changes in wind speed and wind direction angle on the route. In rough sea conditions, the sails can be retracted and stored to ensure the safety of the ship, the shipbuilder said.

The sail surface material of the sail is made of polymer composite materials, and the lightweight design of the whole sail is carried out in a way that ensures the system’s structural strength under wind pressure. 

A major selling point for sail is that the system doesn’t need to be installed in a dock and can be installed basically anywhere according to the needs of the shipowner.

Furthermore, Jiangnan Shipyard said it was also looking into a modular design of the sail system to suit different ship types and sizes. 

 Wind-assist and primary wind propulsion have a great potential when it comes to decarbonizing the shipping industry, especially in the context of the EEXI and CII regulations coming into force next year as they can help vessels reduce fuel consumption and improve their carbon footprint.