As the world’s temperatures continue to spike creating environmental challenges everywhere, curbing carbon emissions continues to be one of the biggest challenges. For example, according to The Economist, 15 of the world’s largest freight ships alone generate more emissions than all the world’s cars combined, making shipping one of the major culprits of pollution.
A Haifa based, Israeli start-up called NayamWings believes it has come up with a solution for the global shipping sector, by harnessing wind power to help supplement and propel ships everywhere. The advantage of wind power is that it is near-constant and not dependent on clear skies and sunny days and more importantly doesn’t require a storage medium. The question though is, how best to harness the wind to convert it into a source of propulsion for large freighters? Place giant windmills on the decks of container ships?
According to Saar Carmeli, NayamWings CEO, the answer is yes and no. Although windmills aren’t really an option, the company’s airplane-influenced marine wings are a 21st century “sail” that when placed on a ship’s deck significantly increase lift, which is then converted into forward motion by causing air to speed up as it travels over the sails/wings. By placing them vertically instead of horizontally, the lift is channeled into forward motion as opposed to upward flight, greatly enhancing the ships propulsion and thereby reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Amnon Asscher, the CTO and one of the three founders added that what makes the company’s “wings” special is that they are 3.5 times stronger per square meter than traditional sails as they are manufactured out of rigid carbon fiber and not sailcloth. In addition, their effectiveness is enhanced because the wings can be adjusted in three dimensions by computer algorithms and machine learning, which optimize the direction the wings can be pivoted without human involvement. The wings are also asymmetrical which increases the amount of lift created enhancing the amount of propulsion generated.
According to the company, the various other competitors in the field are really more like partners as they all are trying to educate the shipping industry in the benefits of wind power, but NayamWIngs believes that they are ahead of pack at the moment as their sail is 3.5 times more effective than the other approaches, which are “only” double the effectiveness of a traditional soft sail.
At present, flat-deck freight ships transporting consumer products represent 90% of all ships in use. Around 35,000 are suitable to be retrofitted with the NayamWings system, a potential $100 billion market and with another 1,5000 ships built each year that could have the system installed during manufacture, the potential is amazing.
The most important issue however remains pollution and how much will the company’s sail help reduce emissions? According to CEO Carmeli, the system when retrofitted onto an existing ship can lower emissions by around 15% and when installed at the time of manufacture could increase reduction to around 35%. Wind power combined with solar power and biofuels made from waste are most probably the future of maritime propulsion, as emissions are only increasing and increasingly strict global regulations will require even more reductions, potentially reaching 50% by 2030.
Once again, thanks to Israeli technology and know-how, the deep blue sea looks brighter than ever!