EcoFlettner – Windship Engineering and Design




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How can ships operate in a particularly environmentally friendly manner?

One possibility is to use wind power for propulsion in order to relieve the main propulsion system. The idea of using wind to propel ships has become increasingly popular in recent years. The wind is available at sea in high energy density and frequency and only needs to be converted into thrust as efficiently as possible on board. Here, the energy efficiency is important, but above all the space requirements and the influence of the wind propulsion system on the cargo operation play a major practical role.

This is where the Flettner rotor can score with high efficiency and small space requirements on deck. The EcoFlettner rotor, developed and tested in the MariGreen project, can be installed on the forecastle and therefore does not affect the deck loading area or cargo handling in the port.

The Flettner rotor is set in rotation by an electric motor inside. The interaction between the rotor surface and the wind current creates a lifting force, giving a ship additional thrust. This not only saves fuel, but also emissions. The rotors were developed as early as the 1920s, but did not catch on due to the low oil price. However, in recent years this type of propulsion has become interesting again due to greater environmental awareness and rising fuel prices.

In the faculty of Maritime Sciences the self-learning control software was developed, the measuring system was designed and installed on board the prototype. 

Furthermore, the long-term test carried out in the project on board the "Fehn Pollux" was scientifically accompanied by the HS Emden-Leer. The performance data and savings were determined and evaluated in the long-term test. For this purpose, the ship was accompanied by an employee of the university for several months.

In the process, a higher rotor power could be measured than had previously been calculated in the model tests.


Furthermore, a 3-day training for the crews of rotor ships was developed at the department, which was carried out in the ship handling simulator in Leer. During this training the crew was familiarized with the influence of the rotor on maneuverability, stability and visibility.



The MariGreen project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (EFRE) as well as by national co-financing from Germany and the Netherlands within the framework of the INTERREG V A programme Germany-Nederland and coordinated by MARIKO GmbH and FME.

Further information can be found here:


Contact person

Prof. Michael Vahs
phone: 0049 (0)491 92817-5022
e-Mail: michael.vahs(at)