What happens when a robotics engineer and a naval architect come together to solve some of the world’s biggest problems? They target the shipping industry and modernize a propulsion method that's been overlooked for decades: wind. 

Benjamin Hayden recently talked with Miles Keeney-Ritchie and Satchel Douglas, co-founders of Aloft Systems Inc., a Boston-based company that is producing containerized wind-propulsion systems to reduce fossil fuel emissions in the maritime industry. 

Satchel Douglas and Miles Keeney-Ritchie at a BlueSwell demo in Boston. Blue Wave Imagery Photo

We discuss, amongst other things, the ease of implementation and fleet maintenance, the projected vessels that will benefit from these sails, and a fuel savings case study of a platform supply vessel off the Massachusetts coast. 

A ¼-scale prototype has been piloted on smaller vessels, such as Bangs Island Mussel Co.’s, F/V Perseverance. We pried some unreleased intel on the successes of that sea trial, and Aloft said it hopes to release the full results soon.

Aloft Systems pilot test with Bangs Island Mussel Co. Portland, Maine, March 2023. Aloft Systems Photo

Aloft Systems is currently looking for an operational development partner to trial its containerized sails. Fleets with PSVs, small general cargo vessels, articulated tug-barges, and other vessels are of great interest.

Tune into our discussion below to see how the modernization of wind propulsion can lead to savings in fuel costs and directly reduce a vessel's GHG emissions.

If this alternative propulsion method is of interest to your fleet, you can get in contact with Aloft Systems here

Ben Hayden is a Maine resident who grew up in the shipyards of northern Massachusetts. He can be reached at (207) 842-5430 and [email protected].