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The Tig Rig Retrofit Sail System: saving our planet one ship at a time
$1,370 raised
5% of $30k goal
12 contributors
57 Weeks running

My name is Alistair Johnson, an English born Canadian inventor living in Vancouver, BC.  

The climate crisis is the challenge of our age.  The 50,000 strong global shipping fleet emits the same level of green house gases (GHG) like CO2 as the country of Germany.  The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has demanded that the shipping industry reduces its GHG emissions by 50% by 2050.  In response to this Maersk, the world's biggest merchant fleet has announced it will reduce emissions by 100% by 2050.  No other ship owners/operators can ignore this huge market statement.

These commitments are like President Kennedy's 1961 announcement of the goal of putting a man on the moon by 1970.  As with the Apollo project no one knows exactly how this goal will be achieved but sine the Apollo mission produced the first silicon ship based mini computer we can be sure huge and important scientific/technical innovations will emerge.  

One thing we can say for sure is that using wind power, sails on merchant ships, will be part of the solution.  Another thing we can say for sure is that retrofitting sails or wind assist devices will be part of the solution for two reasons.  Firstly the technology will have to be proved in normal operational conditions.  Secondly and more compellingly the fleet is big (40,000 flat decked ships and 10,000 container ships) and each ship has a 30 year life span. This means it will be simply too expensive to rely on new build ships with advanced technology to meet the targets.  Existing ships will have to be retro engineered and wind assist, together with slower ship sailing speeds is an obvious and cheap way to go.

My invention is the Tig Rig retrofit sail system for installing on the 40,000 flat decked ships. The design is internationally patent protected and I am a member of the International Wind Ship Association (IWSA). Here below is a single sheet set of drawings.  

And in case you missed it the video can be viewed by clicking the introduction picture.  It shows you how the technology works in more detail.

You can also check out my company website

After wind tunnel testing in Kiel, Germany and routing analysis by the Dutch National Maritime Institute (Marin) my design can save 4% - 8%, depending on the routes with ships travelling at 12 knots.  If Germany were to announce this level of savings within a year it would be huge news.  This technology is available for ships now.  (If ships slow down to 11 knots the figures shift up to 5.5% - 11%.)

The Tig Rig square rigged sail is one of several wind assist designs and you can see some of the others on the IWSA sheet below.  

Some of these designs may apparently deliver better savings than Tig Rig but may not be as practical/crew friendly. It is far too early in the developmental process to make definitive calls either way. In addition going forward all of these sails will increase savings by being solar active and able to generate electricity from the sun for recharging on board batteries as well as for powering hydrolysis and generating hydrogen fuel. A bigger sail area may come to be a significant benefit. 

However the Tig Rig mounting is unique and can be used to mount any other masted device to the outside of the hull of an existing ship. The novelty and uniqueness of this mounting has been confirmed by my own multiple professional patent searches as well as by the Canadian patent examiner. This means it offers itself as the most likely standardised universal mounting system for all masted wind assist devices. The key to the mounting design is that the sail units are mounted at fixed mounting points round the hull but these are interconnected by rails which run round the stern (back) of the ship.  This means that in port the sail units can be wheeled round to the other side of the ship, getting the masts out of the way to allow normal dockside operations.

To have any chance of meeting the 2050 emissions reduction targets the shipping industry cannot rely on business as usual.  The Apollo project, like the CERN Large Hadron Collider project demanded that existing international institutional structures and practices had to be disrupted.   It follows that to have any chance of meeting the emissions targets the shipping industry's business as usual 'each company for itself' will have to be disrupted and all involved parties will have to COLLABORATE. 

Another institutionally disruptive project was the Manhattan project which produced the atom bomb.  The wartime driver of this disruptive collaboration was the very real fear that the Nazi regime would develop the bomb first.  The threat posed by the climate crisis is of at least equal seriousness to the threat of nuclear war.

I have managed to get the Tig Rig to this point by spending $150,000.  This has been a combination of my own money and money borrowed from family and friends whose loans I am servicing.  I am maxed out in that pool of funding.

I need to get the Tig Rig message out and meet up with the other designers of masted devices.  I want them to join me and collaborate, enabling us to present a solid, practical front to ship owners, ship charterers, financiers etc.  

The shipping industry is very traditional and in order to make my case I need to meet the people in charge and have face to face discussions.  I need to raise $30,000 (about £17,500) to attend 4 key 2020 shipping conferences and to clear outstanding legal fees: 

1) Blue Week in Rotterdam  25-29 May (which includes the AGM of IWSA which will be attended by all the other wind assist designers )

2)  Posidonia in Athens 1-5 June (where I will have a booth and give a Shark Tank presentation to a panel of industry decision makers)

3) SMM in  Hamburg 8-11 September

4) Shipping Insight in Connecticut 13-15 October (where I won a design award in 2018 and in 2019 came second in their Shark Tank competition)

I can't wait for other possible funding either grants or investment funding because I need the $30,000 to secure the slots/make travel arrangements etc as soon as possible. Crowdfunding is the obvious way to go.

Fundrazr is very appealing because it is Vancouver based and I like the platform and ethos.  However  I am quite uncomfortable about taking donations and have discussed this with the Fundrazr mentors. I am confident that I will eventually get either grant funding or business investors and so the solution I can live with is that if people donate and give their contact details I will be able to repay them once I get grant/investment funding.  Those not wanting to give their details will be purely donating. If that is the way you choose to go then I can only say how very grateful I am to you for your generosity and sense of mission.

Even if you can't help with a donation yourself I would be very grateful if you could share the details of this crowdfunding appeal among people you know.  

Thank you so much for taking the time.

Best regards,




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