Fuel-saving rigid sail granted patent in Japan

Commercial production of EnergySail technology is planned for 2018.

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Updated on 26 Oct 2016 07:26 GMT

Eco Marine Power (EMP), a developer of fuel and emission reduction solutions for ships, has announced that a patent covering core elements of its EnergySail technology has been granted by the Japan Patent Office. The granting of this patent will allow for the licensing of the technology to proceed so that commercial production of the EnergySail and associated technologies can begin in 2018.

The EnergySail is a rigid sail device that can be fitted with a range of renewable energy technologies such as solar panels or wind power devices. The flexible nature of the EnergySail design allows for it to be upgraded during the life cycle of a ship so that newer technologies can be incorporated as they become available.

The patent covers the main design elements incorporated into the EnergySail, including its grid structure, functional panels and device for reducing sudden wind loads. These elements can be applied to a sail type device or used as a platform for wind power and solar power devices.

An example of how the EnergySail could be incorporated into a modern ship design is the Aquarius Eco Ship. This low emission, sustainable ship design concept includes an EnergySail array and other associated technologies so that solar and wind power can be used together to reduce fuel consumption and lower noxious gas emissions on ships.

Greg Atkinson, Chief Technology Officer at EMP, stated: "This is another important milestone for Eco Marine Power and the granting of this patent illustrates the innovative nature of the fuel and emission reduction solutions we are developing for shipping. The technologies associated with this patent have applications across shipping and could also be incorporated into coastal or offshore renewable energy projects."

The first production version of EnergySail has been manufactured by Teramoto Iron Works of Onomichi, Japan. This company was also involved in the production of rigid sails in Japan during the 1980s.

Earlier this year, EMP was also granted a patent in Japan and the United States for another concept related to the use of wind and solar power from ships.