Wind sails on Pyxis Ocean deliver as promised, says Cargill


Swiss freight trader Cargill confirms fuel savings from wind sails fitted last year on Pyxis Ocean.

Pyxis Ocean retrofitted with WindWings setting sail for its maiden voyage, August 2023 © Cargill

Swiss freight trader Cargill has revealed the results of the six-month test period of the Pyxis Ocean, which was fitted with wind sails from BAR Technologies last year.

Cargill said that the MC Shipping Kamsarmax has achieved performance consistent with what was predicted, which is equivalent to an average savings of 3 tonnes of fuel per day.

BAR Technologies and Cargill estimate that this equates to 11.2 tons of CO2e per day on a well-to-wake emissions reduction basis.

The data was verified by a third party, namely DNV, which was hired to review the fuel savings calculations.

“We are encouraged by the results and have learned a great deal about implementing wind-assisted propulsion on dry bulk vessels,” said Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business.

“We could never have done this alone – BAR Technologies and MC Shipping and have been fantastic partners in making the Pyxis Ocean a reality as well as the captain and crew. We are on the leading edge of change in the shipping industry and believe technologies that harness the wind could be an important, cost-effective way to achieve our decarbonization goals in the short, medium and long-term.”

The Pyxis Ocean hit open waters in August 2023 and during the first six months of testing it has sailed the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, North and South Atlantic, and passed Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope.

The ship was retrofitted with two WindWings®, which measure 37,5 meters in height and resemble large airplane wings. The wings are installed vertically to catch the wind and propel the ship forward, allowing the ship’s engine to be turned down so that the ship can travel at the same speed as a conventional ship using less fuel.

The wings are controlled by a touch panel on the bridge. A traffic light system tells the crew when to raise or lower the sails. Once raised, the operation is fully automated: sensors onboard constantly measure the wind, and the sails self-adjust to the optimal configuration.

Wind-assisted propulsion has the potential to be a cost-efficient way of supporting the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new greenhouse gas strategy. One of the IMO‘s 2030 targets is to have 5 percent, striving for 10 percent, of energy coming from very low carbon sources by 2030, and wind-assisted propulsion could be an important way of achieving this.

Cargill pointed out that the early voyages have provided insight into more than just the application of the sails on a vessel, highlighting broader logistical challenges in the global maritime system.

Given that every port, terminal, and berth is different, the company believes that their involvement is critical towards integrating wind-assisted propulsion (WAP) technology into the global maritime system on a wider scale.

“The results of the Pyxis Ocean’s first voyage with WindWings® installed clearly demonstrate that wind assisted propulsion can secure significant fuel savings and emissions reduction. For example, in near optimum sailing conditions, during an open sea voyage, the Pyxis Ocean achieved fuel savings of 11 tonnes per day,” John Cooper, BAR Technologies CEO, said.

While the Pyxis Ocean has two WindWings®, Cooper anticipates that the majority of Kamsarmax vessels will carry three wings, further increasing the fuel savings and emissions reductions by a factor of 1.5.

“With Cargill we are now able to validate our performance predictions and modelling in real-world conditions, it’s an exciting time as we begin to roll out WindWings® production globally,” he noted.

“So far, we’ve engaged with more than 250 ports to find ways of enabling vessel with large scale WAP to berth. This complexity is where Cargill truly excels, and how we can leverage our unique role in the maritime industry,” said Dieleman.

“We are not afraid to be a development partner and invest, share risks with partners, and to make a difference in transforming the industry.”

Cargill said it would continue the testing and experimenting of operational, technical and commercial aspects of the Pyxis Ocean to incorporate the maximum amount of learning into potential design of future installations before scaling up.