New Composite Sail Could One Day Be Used to Power Ferries

Wind+Wing Technologies has partnered with Photon Composites to develop a greener vessel to replace the current diesel guzzling ferries that run across San Francisco Bay.

The demonstration vessel the team made is a 42-foot trimaran equipped with a computerised wing that has been specially designed to harness wind power and significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions. In January 2014, the demonstration vessel began test sailing five days a week, for three months, on a number of the San Francisco ferry routes

The fully autonomous wing, produced by Photon Composites from carbon fibre composites is simply turned on or off with a switch on the bridge. In the OFF, or ‘feather’ mode the wing is exceptionally low drag and will not affect the vessel’s manoeuvrability or handling characteristics. In ON or ’power mode, the wing will automatically trim itself to make best use of the available wind, regardless of the vessels heading or speed.

The demonstration period tracked vessel reliability, speed, and fuel savings during a varied wind season, all while replicating a realistic ferry schedule. Data compiled during the demonstration was forwarded for analysis to Dr. Timothy Lipman, Co-Director for the Transportation Sustainability Research Centre at the University of California, Berkeley.

The data was presented in a final report, and documents potential improvements in air quality and fuel cost savings from employing this technology on San Francisco Bay ferry vessels.