“This innovation produces fuel savings of more than 10% for the shipping industry”

Tuesday 02 April 2019

To get things done, you need to take action. That is what we believe at NHL Stenden. In the Students on Stage section, our students tell us how they use their passion and enthusiasm to contribute to practical innovations. Sanne Zwaan, Maritime Officer student, used his internship to study a device that helps to save fuel on ships.

Sanne serves his internship at eConowind, a sister company of Groningen-based Conoship International. This company focuses on innovations for the shipping industry. They developed the eConowind unit, a mobile sea container that has two foldable aluminium wings, which are called VentiFoils. These wings ought to produce fuel savings, but does it really work? It is Sanne’s job to monitor the prototype’s results at sea. “During my internship, I study the functioning of the VentiFoils when they are in actual use on the ship. Very interesting to research, especially because it’s based on a previous invention by explorer and naval officer Jacques Yves Cousteau. He researched the system we are now developing.”

Successful first tests

A while back, the first full-scale prototype was taken to sea. The eConowind unit was a whopping 12 meters long, and the VentiFoils on top of it had a height of 10 meters. Sanne came along to test it: “A month after my first interview, I spent a few weeks on the Lady Christina, a coastal vessel of about 110 meters, to study how the unit functions in practice.

I checked, for example, whether or not weather conditions would cause any issues while folding and unfolding the VentiFoils.” The first tests are successful. “Fortunately it turned out that it works in practice. We were able to show that it could save a whopping 800 litres of fuel! On a ship of this size, that’s a saving of about 10%. On smaller vessels, the fuel savings percentage can be even higher.”

On to the second test phase

Sanne is looking forward to the second test phase, in which the fuel savings will be examined more closely. “At the moment I’m in the middle of my research. I sailed for about four weeks, and in a while, we’ll return to sea using the same ship, carrying the same VentiFoils. We’ve already seen that they work and we haven't run into any major issues. Now we want to examine the precise fuel savings. That’s why, in the next research phase, we’ll closely examine the measuring equipment as well. We have tested them at the office and during the first phase, but I’m sure we can calibrate them even more accurately.”

econowind-schip

The current study focusses on the use of two VentiFoils on one ship. In the future, that number may increase to as many as four per vessel, which will reduce fuel consumption even more.

Impact on the shipping industry

Sanne’s internship is an unusual choice: “My education is technically orientated; we’re trained as a helmsman or an operator. So this internship isn’t an obvious choice. But I’m pleased with my decision! It's a real thrill to see that my actions have such an impact on the shipping industry. The technical challenge is just great, and by saving fuel, I also contribute to a more sustainable society. I feel as if I’m doing something that is good for the environment and is significant to the world.”

Direct contact between company and study programme

Sanne does his research at the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz (MIWB), which is part of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. This research is an important step for Conoship International. Guus van der Bles, director: “Thanks to this study, we now know that the eConowind unit works. The prototype test results are positive. Sanne's research results help us to further develop the eConowind unit, enabling us to generate even higher fuel savings in the future!” The internship company found the appropriate intern after contacting Gerrit van Leunen, director of the MIWB, directly. “We’re very pleased that the MIWB has joined us in the thought process, and that there is a direct line of communication.”

Direct contact between company and study programme

Sanne does his research at the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz (MIWB), which is part of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. This research is an important step for Conoship International. Guus van der Bles, director: “Thanks to this study, we now know that the eConowind unit works. The prototype test results are positive. Sanne's research results help us to further develop the eConowind unit, enabling us to generate even higher fuel savings in the future!” The internship company found the appropriate intern after contacting Gerrit van Leunen, director of the MIWB, directly. “We’re very pleased that the MIWB has joined us in the thought process, and that there is a direct line of communication.”

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