Flettner-Rotor saves significant fuel

'Fehn Pollux' EcoFlettner rotor installation on the 'Fehn Pollux'. Credit: International Windship Association

Scientists have found that the rotor sail propulsion system prototype EcoFlettner “saves a noticeable amount of fuel.”

The performance of the EcoFlettner, comprising an 18m high rotor with a diameter of 3m, has been tested under real conditions aboard 90m long multi-purpose freighter MV Fehn Pollux since July and has exceeded the expectations of the research team.

"The data we have evaluated so far significantly outmatch those of our model calculations," said Professor Michael Vahs, who has been researching the topic of wind propulsion for seagoing vessels at the University of Applied Science Emden/Leer for more than 15 years. In perfect conditions, this prototype delivers more thrust than the main engine."


15 companies from around Leer have been involved in the development and construction of the sailing system. The whole project is funded by the EU and coordinated by Mariko in Leer.

The University of Applied Sciences has developed a purpose-made measuring and control system for this project, which enables scientists to gather transparent and reliable performance data. “For the first time we are able to get precise thrust measurements for a Flettner rotor," said Professor Vahs.

Onboard Fehn Pollux, more than 50 different data are continuously collected and computed in real time by the Flettner control system on the bridge. The computer uses the data to calculate the optimum settings for the rotor under the current conditions.

Professor Vahs explained that the “data gathered so far allows us to say, that the EcoFlettner saves a noticeable amount of fuel. We are also able to prove, that for ship owners the investment into this sailing system is worth considering, because it pays off in a few years.”

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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