20/02/2018 10:32 AM
Wind-powered ‘rotor ship’ a first for Newcastle Harbour
It might seem like technology from the pages of maritime history, but wind is back and like never before.
A brand new cargo ship built in 2017, the 199 meter-long Afros, is the first ever bulk carrier to harness the power of wind using spinning sail technology and was brought into Newcastle Harbour recently by one of Port Authority’s marine pilots.
Image: Port Authority marine pilot Nicholas Leonard on board the Afro
Rotor ships feature towering vertical rotors on their decks that use the Magnus effect for propulsion. The Magnus effect is caused when a spinning sphere or cylinder drags air faster on one side then the other, moving the object in the direction of side with the lower-pressure side.
It's the same effect that causes balls to spin in sports and it can be harnessed by ships to move them forward in a similar way.
Rotor ships like the Afros aren't a new concept, they were invented by German engineer Anton Flettner in 1924. However, there has been a renewed interest in the technology in recent years, primarily as a way to increase fuel efficiency and reduce costs.
The captain was very pleased with the outcome of the voyage to Newcastle and said they managed to get an extra 1.7 knots (nautical mile per hour) than usual. No doubt the view of rotor sails from the bridge will become more of the norm.
Image: The rotor ship Afros being brought into Newcastle Harbour.