In a bid to sail the seas in the most eco-friendly way possible, who knew that the answer would take us back into one of the oldest forms of propulsion over water? The people behind the WindWings system seem to think so as they retrofit a 750-foot cargo ship christened the Pyxis Ocean with their towering sails.

At first, we thought this was just another concept proposed to reduce the carbon emissions of massive vessels like the one in question. However, reports point out that shipping firm Cargill greenlit the project and the ship has already embarked on its maiden voyage with the WindWings retrofitted.

Its course has already been plotted from China to Brazil wherein data gathered will allow a team of experts to analyze if it’s ready for full-scale production. The WindWings are designed by BAR Technologies and manufactured by Yara Marine Technologies.

The material of choice is like that of massive wind turbines and provides each 123-foot-tall structure robust protection against the corrosive properties of seawater. These can fold down when not in use to minimize drag or in bad weather for added safety.

BAR Technologies CEO John Cooper stated, “if international shipping is to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions, then innovation must come to the fore.“  We’re looking at approximately 1.5 tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO) saved per day with the WindWings sails in place.

Another attractive selling point is the compatibility with existing and new vessels. Nonetheless, it was indicated that the latter stands to benefit more with up to 30 percent of average fuel savings. Depending on the success of the trails, Cargill’s entire fleet could be equipped with WindWings followed by others.

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Images courtesy of BAR Technologies