19 maio 2021

Rotor Sail – A game changer regarding performance and environment protection

By Felipe de Paulo

ABDM, member and maritime lawyer

At first contact, the maritime industry seems to be deeply connected to several traditions, due to its longevity, but on a closer look, we realize that it is a segment that always focuses on innovation. Several times we notice the synergy with other markets, such as aeronautics, since aircraft navigations lights are in the same color of vessels’ position light.

This leading position, especially regarding I.T., was confirmed once again: on May 13th, VALE S.A. informed the market of its first vessel equipped with rotor sails.

The ship, which has a transport capacity of 325 thousand tons, has five rotor sails installed, generating a reduction of up to 3.4 thousand tons of CO2.[1] If the effectiveness is proven, it is foreseen is that up to 40% of the fleet will be replaced over the next few years.[2]

The rotor sails are cylindrical engines with 4 meters in diameter and 24 meters in height. Like a traditional sail, the air passes through it, in a pressure variation that propels the vessel forward.[3] It recalls the effect of a soccer ball that, when kicked, makes a curve: the so-called “Magnus effect”.[4]

Below is an infographic. For an explanatory video, we recommend this link.

Source: Amusing Planet <>


This initiative, as well as others such as the adoption of multi-fuel ships, aims to comply with the Paris Agreement, contributing to reach the commitment to reduce at least 30% by 2030 and finally a neutrality goal by 2050.[5]

As a consequence, the adoption of better practices, besides having a full alignment with the United Nations’ decisions, results, in the long-term, in an operation without environmental impact. Finally, this technological innovation has the potential to place a national company in a leadership position in the low carbon mining scenario.



[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid; ;

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