With its Vindskip (or Windship), the Norwegian designers at Lade AS have come up with an intriguing concept for a partly wind-powered "hybrid" merchant ship.

No, Gizmag hasn't quite forgotten maritime history, and Lade AS is not proposing a return to the Age of Sail – not quite, anyway. Instead, the concept envisages using a specially-shaped hull to harness the power of the wind.

Though the idea isn't 100 percent wind-powered, Lade AS claims that its apparently patented design would achieve fuel savings of 60 percent while reducing emissions by 80 percent.

How? Well, the company says it has drawn inspiration from the Aerospace Industry to create a hull which it describes as a symmetrical airfoil. The company claims the airfoil helps harnesses a force akin to aerodynamic lift, pulling the ship along, and company manager Terje Lade tells Gizmag that the symmetrical airfoil ensures that "lift" is generated when the wind comes from both port and starboard sides. "You can compare a symmetrical airfoil with a 'normal' sail," he tells Gizmag.

The international patent seems to simply lay claim to the application of an airfoil to the hull of a ship.

The company suggests that a computer navigation system could pull in weather data to plot an optimal course. The ship would use a liquefied natural gas-powered electrical generator for the remainder of its energy requirements and to get going from a standstill.

We welcome your assessment in the comments.

Source: Lade AS