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Wind-powered cargo vessel promises sustainable ocean shipping Written by Katherine Gallagher

Oceanbird is a massive sailing cargo ship designed to reinvent sustainable ocean shipping and reduce transatlantic travel emissions by 90%. The Swedish collaborative project is still in its sea trials stage but is poised for full-scale production by late 2021 and deliveries by 2024. Conceptually, the wind-powered cargo vessel is designed for car and truck shipments and will have the capacity to carry up to 7,000 cars at a time.

Wallenius Marine, the company responsible for Oceanbird (along with the Royal Institute of Technology, SSPA and the Swedish Transport Administration), believes in the future of zero-emissions shipping using wind as the main energy source. Oceanbird shows that major sustainable changes are possible in the maritime shipping industry, which currently  accounts for 90% of global freight. While seafaring began with sails, diesel engines have become the mainstay over the past 100 years, accomplishing faster crossings at the expense of the environment. The project brings together experts in both the private and public sectors.

This new ocean freighter will be 200 meters long by 40 meters wide with an average speed of 10 knots on a typical Atlantic journey. Its 80-meter-high sails are twice the height of the largest sailing ships on the seas today. The design features a combination theme where the hull and five rigs, specially designed for ocean sailing, work together as one. A transatlantic crossing will take about 12 days, compared to conventional vessels that take around eight days.

The project is co-financed by the Swedish Transport Administration, while the Royal Institute of Technology is contributing expertise in aerodynamics, sailing mechanics and performance analysis. Similarly, SSPA is developing new testing methods, aerodynamic and hydrodynamic simulation and risk simulation. The learning gained from these experts will be used to develop sailing vessels in other capacities to further advance sustainable methods in various maritime industries.

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