We may think of them as safety devices, but the windshields on our cars and trucks play a big role in making the vehicles more aerodynamic, helping to reduce both fuel costs and carbon emissions. But all the shields or fairings in the world couldn't help a hulking containership slip cleanly through the wind and waves... could it?
The Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines now says it has proved otherwise, demonstrating that windshields work for slow-steaming cargo vessels too. Mitsui recently announced that an in-service test of a wind resistance-reducing windshield for ships showed the device reduced emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by an average of 2 percent, thanks to lower fuel consumption.
To test the concept, Mitsui installed the enormous windshield on the bow section of the 990-foot-long MOL Marvel and compared the vessel's performance with that of an identical ship moving at the same speed (17 knots, or 20 mph) without the device. Engineers collected data during the vessels' service on various routes between Asia and the East Coast of North America, then massaged the data to eliminate the effects of ocean waves and to isolate the change in performance that was due solely to reduced wind resistance.
Based on the trial's success, the company said it plans to continue efforts to confirm the windshield's seaworthiness, analyze the sailing data, and apply more advanced technology.