Oceanbird, the future cargo sailing ship with 90 % fewer emissions

Posted on 28 Sep 2020

"International shipping must be radically reformed, because this industry is responsible for many harmful emissions. We only have one planet and we must take responsibility to leave a good place for future generations. Per Tunell, COO of shipbuilder Wallenius Marine, is speaking in a webcast about his company's plans to send the Oceanbird cargo ship out into the oceans in four years' time, together with a number of partners. 

Search for alternatives to fossil fuels

International shipping, which accounts for 90 % of the world's freight transport, does not have a very good ecological reputation. The polluting diesel for their powerful engines is responsible for a substantial proportion of CO2 emissions worldwide. Engineers are therefore feverishly searching for innovative fuel alternatives for international shipping. Not only for freight traffic, but also for cruise ships.

Higher than a cathedral

A consortium of Wallenius Marine, several other partner companies and a maritime research institute recently proposed an alternative, a freighter on wind power, with five telescopic "sails" in composite material. Oceanbird will be a sailing freighter with a length of 200 metres. The standard height of the "sails" is 50 metres, but they can be extended to as much as 80 metres if necessary. The total height of the ship in that condition is even higher than most cathedrals. On board there is room for no less than 7,000 vehicles. The cruising speed would be 10 knots and an Atlantic crossing would take 12 days. If everything goes according to plan, the consortium will be able to launch a first specimen of the Oceanbird in four years' time. 

Auxiliary engine on clean energy

"For the development of this sailing freighter, we relied on a mix of aerodynamic and shipping technology," Per Tunell said. "It is a technically challenging project. The rigging and the hull work together as one to catch the wind in the most efficient way. The hull is designed for a large sailing vessel that can carry heavy loads over long distances over long periods of time," says Per Tunell in a press release from the consortium. Although the Oceanbird sails on wind power, it still has an auxiliary engine on board for manoeuvring in ports. Of course, it runs on clean energy.



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