eConwind’s Ventifoil wind propulsion system gets first commercial reference

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 25 September 2019


A new type of wind assist propulsion system is to get its first commercial reference after three years of development in The Netherlands.

Dutch shipmanagement specialist Jan van Dam Shipping has signed a contract for the installation of an eConowind supplied wind assisted propulsion system on their 3,600dwt, 2007-built general cargo vessel Ankie. The Spijk-based company will take delivery of the Ventifoil system later this year.

For Conoship subsidiary eConowind, located in Groningen, Netherlands, it is the first commercial order of their Ventifoil system which successfully completed sea test trials earlier this year. The wind-assist system was developed over the past three years supported by an EU backed grant and this first installation marks a significant milestone for the company in bringing their technology to a shipping market eager to deploy credible decarbonisation solutions.

Jan van Dam signs the contract for a first eConowind system

Together with the Technical University of Delft and MARIN in Wageningen, the ship design office Conoship in Groningen studied several concepts of wind propulsion units for several years. After concluding the suction wings studied by Jacques Cousteau were most promising, eConowind was started in December 2016 to further develop wind propulsion on modern seagoing vessels, supported by a grant from the European Union.

eConowind designed foldable VentiFoils: wing shaped elements with vents and an internal fan that use boundary layer suction for maximum effect and creating very high propelling force relative to its size. Boundary layer suction increases and controls the propulsion force. The goal of the unit is to reduce costs and CO2 emissions by the reduction of motor power requirement. On demand, the Ventifoils deploy and further operation is done automatically with the optimal angles relative to the apparent wind. The generated force is transferred directly into the deck and thus helps propulsion allowing the main engine to be used at lower load. The Ventifoils can be retrofitted onto existing vessels, integrated in new-builds or be placed inside a container which can be put onto the hatches of the ship. Two Ventifoils housed in a 40’ container could supply the equivalent of 82m2 of sail surface.

The installation on Ankie will feature two, 10-meter wings along with two extensions of six meters that will generate significant force allowing the vessel to reduce motor power and thus save energy.

“We are seeking ‘Econology’ for shipping: good for Ecology but must be Economical as well. After several years of development and testing we are very happy to take this next big step: a first commercial installation to show that saving energy and emissions can mean saving money at the same time. We are confident that such an innovative company as van Dam Shipping will manage to get the most out of the system and we are really excited to share the results in the coming months.” stated Frank Nieuwenhuis, CEO of eConowind.

“We expect the reduction in fuel costs over a period of approx. three years will equal the costs of the system and thus fulfill our dream of using the wind again in modern shipping, which has been 40 years in the making,” stated Jan van Dam, owner of van Dam Shipping

Van Dam Shipping will participate in further testing the concept in the new EU Interreg backed Wind-Assist Ship Propulsion (WASP) research program, which from October will study practical use of wind-assisted systems in day-to-day operation as well as actual savings over an extended period of time. Both eConowind and van Dam Shipping are convinced the Ventifoils will give significant savings and thus be an important solution to help shipping reach the IMO decarbonization goals for 2030 and 2050.

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