- Technology - WindWings takes flight

By Jack Hogan

WindWings takes flight

BAR technologies continues to innovate decarbonisation with the use of wing sail technology in the marine sector…

UK technology firm BAR Technologies, an offshoot of Sir Ben Ainslie’s 2017 America’s Cup Team, has seen its pioneering wing sail system installed on a newly launched cargo vessel. The Pycix Ocean is currently undergoing sea trials before its maiden voyage from China to Brazil.

Wind power is being increasingly viewed as an essential component of the shipping industry's decarbonisation strategy. Bringing this technology to the superyacht sector formed an engaging keynote session at The Superyacht Forum 2022, where BAR Technologies CTO Simon Schofield spoke about the Pyxis project and the development of wind wing technology.

“We always wanted to do things a little differently and spin a technology company out of the America’s Cup campaign,” said Schofield. “We wanted to absorb the DNA of the race team: the IP, the tools, and the engineers. Fortunately, we can now apply it elsewhere in the marine industry.”

In port, the WindWings system is folded down, and at sea, it's raised. This system combines sailing principles with automated control systems, reducing the energy demand on a vessel. Consequently, this lessens the load on the existing engines and decreases emissions.

Schofield emphasised the urgency shipping vessel owners feel about decarbonising. While alternative fuels are being adopted, especially in new builds, wing sail technology could be a game-changer for numerous vessels in the marine industry.

Schofield also highlighted the constraints faced in the America’s Cup, where design teams can't perform tank tests. “Without the luxury of time to make adjustments, we rely heavily on accurate simulations,” he continued. “Efficiency is our starting point. If we can reduce energy needs, it simplifies our task. That's why we lean on our company’s heritage in the America's Cup and our simulation-driven design methods.”

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulates marine conditions and predicts airflow and water currents around a ship. It's pivotal to the design of the BAR WindWings system. “We use a holistic tool that assesses the vessel in its entirety,” Schofield explained. “While it doesn't replace the tank test model, it does provide invaluable data for machine learning, training networks, and constructing reliable surrogate models. With these in hand, we can implement automated optimisation systems.”

Wind wing technology for the superyacht sector is gathering momentum, with serval high-profile projects and concepts released. Merveille Yachting presented its M253w concept eco-cruiser, in partnership with Feadship and AYRO, at the Feadship breakfast during MYS 2021, for example.

While the utilitarian design of the BAR Technologies system detailed here does not directly to the traditional aesthetic of superyacht design, its principles, as discussed at The Superyacht Forum, are gaining traction in the marine sector's decarbonisation mission. 

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WindWings takes flight


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