A wind-powered giant sailboat called “Oceanbird” could change the way we ship cargo. The innovative Swedish technology will make it possible to power the large oceangoing vessels by wind. Wallenius Marine’s Oceanbird is a concept for a PCTC (Pure Car and Truck Carrier) with capacity to carry 7,000 cars.
People have been sailing for thousands of years. A hundred years ago vessels powered by engines took over shipping and today shipping accounts for 90% of global freight. Diesel engines have meant faster crossings but at the expense of the environment.
Oceanbird reduces emissions by as much as 90%. It has five wing sails, more like airplane wings, all 80 metres tall, giving the ship a height above water line of approx 100 metres, but thanks to a telescopic (retractable) construction, the wings can be reduced to a quarter of its length – from 80 to 20 metres. This function is key for several reasons, most important being:
- Being able to pass under bridges.
- Reducing the maximum air draft of the ship in port.
- Reducing rig forces in strong winds.
- Enable maintenance of wings.
- Improve performance in wider wind range.
The wings will be able to turn 360 degrees, and all five can be in different positions. “For optimal performance the wings are not synchronized in the way that they are all aligned in the same direction. Rather, there are variations along the length of the ship. A control system that monitor for example wind direction and wing loads, will determine the optimal positioning.”
As a safety measure – the vessel will also be equipped with an auxiliary engine, powered by clean energy, which will be available as a backup and for getting in and out of harbours.
Estimated average speed of the Oceanbird is 10 knots. A transatlantic crossing with 7,000 cars onboard will take around 12 days (today’s crossings takes about 8 days).
Oceanbird is a technically challenging project where the rigging and hull work together as a single unit to harness the wind in the most efficient way possible. The hull has been designed for a large sailing cargo vessel and everything has been developed from this; speed, steering technology, hull shape and appearance, and the design and construction of the rigging. It is a mix of aerodynamic and shipbuilding technology. When the first ship is completed, it will be the world’s largest sailing vessel.
The concept will enable the shipping industry to change current working methods and time requirements and to drastically reduce CO2 in the world’s transport chains. The design will be ready for orders in 2021 and can be possibly launched in 2024.
Here is a video showing the concept of Wallenius Marine’s wind powered ship Oceanbird: