rasant: Cargo Sailboats with Alternative Propulsion

At a glance

  • Given the current climate protection targets, the shipping industry needs to reduce its emissions too. This can be achieved with hybrid vessels with sail systems and hydrogen-based drives.
  • The “rasant” research project is delivering a concept for a hybrid cargo sailing ship which will be made available to shipping companies.
  • Fraunhofer IWES is responsible among other things for the technical and economic evaluation of different sailing assistance systems. 


The challenge

In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reach the milestone target of reducing emissions by 55 percent by 2030 in the European Union, the shipping industry will also have to make a contribution. Shipping units as of 5,000 gross tonnage (GT) arriving at and leaving the ports in the EU have been included in the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and must purchase emission allowances for their emissions in a phased plan since the beginning of 2023. Pressure is also coming from customers of shipping companies, who, in turn, want to market their products as environmentally friendly and are also taking transport and logistics into consideration in the process. As such, it will be of great interest to shipping companies to reduce their fleets’ emissions.


The solution

This is being made possible by the hybrid-powered ships supported by sails or hydrogen propulsion. However, there are still no blueprints for these ships as yet. The “Cargo sailing ship” joint project thus aims to aid the shipping industry’s energy transition to climate neutrality by developing economical hybrid ships comprising high-performance sail systems and hydrogen-based drives.

The aim of the “rasant” project is to establish the design principles for a cargo sailing ship with alternative drives in an exemplary manner, so as to allow German shipping companies to implement the project results directly into their new shipbuilding projects under the existing economic framework conditions. The project is delivering a detailed conceptual design including all the relevant boundary conditions that determine the transport performance, the cost structure, and the operating conditions of the vessel.


The added value

Fraunhofer IWES is responsible for the technology of the sailing assistance systems. Various sailing assistance systems will be assessed from both a technological and an economic perspective with regard to their suitability for the specified route profiles. The focus is on materials, robustness, automation, operation and maintenance, certification guidelines and their implementation, life cycle, cost structures, and the cost-performance ratio. A standardized evaluation scheme will then be developed based on the results above. In addition, Fraunhofer IWES will investigate the scalability and future requirements of the sail system to increase its usability and economic viability.

More information on the project website: www.rasant.eu

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