Shipping is a relatively essential sector in global trades, though existing ships that carry cargos are mostly adopted with heavy oil as fuel, which causes drastic impact to the marine environment. Under the trend of environmental protection, Swedish shipbuilding company Wallenius Marine has recently announced its launching of Oceanbird, a pristine pelagic carrier that uses wind as the main power, in the hope of opening a new chapter for eco-friendly shipping.
The concept of delivering cargo through ships has existed for thousands of years, and the task of carrying heavy goods has been shifted to large crude oil carriers as technology advances, though this particular change has introduced ramifications to the human society.
According to the statistics, among the rankings of man-made emissions, nitrous oxide, sulfur oxides, and carbon dioxide emitted by shipping account for 30%, 9%, and 3% of the total emission respectively, and not to mention the frequent pollution in the marine environmental caused by oil spills.
In order to respond to the increasing concern over global warming, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has stipulated the target of lowering the emission level to 40% within the next 10 years, and shipping enterprises are echoing with the new environmental protection awareness by researching on transportation methods that are more eco-friendly, as well as the integration between new materials and technology, before marching into the new nautical era.
The “Oceanbird” carrier released by Wallenius Marine has been designed based on this concept, where the 200x40m ship hull is able to carry roughly 7,000 units of automobiles, and the 5 units of 80m tall retractable wing sails made with metal and composite materials facilitate the carrier in marching forward by using wind energy.
Oceanbird is indeed a pristine wind carrier, or one can regard it as a comprehensive upgrade from the historical sailboat. Although modern sailboats are being developed as a form of entertainment, Wallenius Marine has given a new definition to sailboat shipping through aerodynamics, fluid dynamics, and navigation mechanics by working with Swedish research institution SSPA and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
The wing sails of the Oceanbird are able to rapidly reduce in surface area when the carrier passes underneath bridges or encounters typhoons thanks to the retractable structure design, and the ship hull of the carrier is also equipped with an auxiliary green energy that serves as a safety measure when entering and exiting the harbor.
The Oceanbird has a slow navigation speed in contrast to traditional cargo ships since it uses wind energy as the primary navigation power, and is merely able to sail with an average speed of 10 knots, which takes 12 days to sail across the North Atlantic. However, as the Oceanbird does not require highly polluting fuel, it reduces nearly 90% of emission.
Under the support from the Swedish Transport Agency, Wallenius Marine has constructed a small model of the Oceanbird, and will be implementing tests in the next coming months, with the final design expected to be ready by the end of next year, and an official debut in 2025.
Although some believe that it is somewhat ironic in developing eco-friendly carriers to transport gasoline and diesel vehicles that cause pollution to the environment, Per Tunell, COO of Wallenius Marine, pointed out that the automotive industry is also experiencing a major transformation, where various major manufacturers are striving towards the objective of zero emission, thus the pace of the Oceanbird will go hand in hand with the development of automotive manufacturers.
This is also the reason why Wallenius Marine shared numerous details of the ship hull of the Oceanbird. Tunell commented that the team’s vision is to embark on a path of transportation that is truly sustainable, and has never regarded eco-friendly transportation as a mean of competition since it is the direction that everyone needs to take, thus the team welcomes everyone.
“We try to maintain the degree of transparency in the hope of inspiring others to test the limit of possibilities. Humans need to change, as we are running out of time.”
(Cover photo source: Oceanbird)