Link Copied

This cargo-ship concept is powered by gigantic wings and wants to reduce emissions by 90% — check out 'Oceanbird'

This cargo-ship concept is powered by gigantic wings and wants to reduce emissions by 90% — check out 'Oceanbird'
  • A group of Swedish researchers and boat builders designed Oceanbird, a new type of cargo ship that's powered by giant wings instead of a traditional engine.
  • The ship will cut down on emissions by up to 90% compared to other cargo ships, according to Wallenius Marine, the manufacturer behind the concept.
  • The huge fins will be able to swivel to catch the wind, and can retract to go under bridges.
  • Oceanbird was conceived as a car carrier that can fit 7,000 vehicles, but Wallenius Marine said the technology can be adapted to other types of vessels, like cruise ships.

Cargo ships carry around 90% of global trade — roughly 11 billion tons of goods each year — and contribute mightily to global greenhouse-gas emissions. But one Swedish company is looking to make shipping a bit more sustainable with a new breed of emission-free vessels.

Shipbuilder Wallenius Marine teamed up with Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, maritime consultancy SSPA, and the Swedish Transportation Administration to design a new type of cargo ship that's far more ecologically friendly than the diesel-powered vessels on the seas today. The result of that partnership is Oceanbird, a cargo-ship concept that's pulled along by gigantic wing-like sails.

Wallenius claims Oceanbird will be able to carry 7,000 cars and be 90% more efficient than other ocean-going vessels. The trade-off, however, is that Oceanbird will take around 12 days to cross the Atlantic, whereas traditional ships currently make the journey in about eight.

Learn a bit more about the green cargo ship below.

Oceanbird gets its power from five 262-foot wings, which are made from metal and composite. They're twice the height of the sails on the biggest sailing ships today, Wallenius says.

Oceanbird gets its power from five 262-foot wings, which are made from metal and composite. They're twice the height of the sails on the biggest sailing ships today, Wallenius says.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement

In its current design, the ship will be 656 feet long and and 131 feet wide. That would make it the largest sailing vessel when completed, according to Wallenius.

In its current design, the ship will be 656 feet long and and 131 feet wide. That would make it the largest sailing vessel when completed, according to Wallenius.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement

The sails spin 360 degrees to catch the wind and can retract by 75% for stormy conditions or to pass under a bridge.

The sails spin 360 degrees to catch the wind and can retract by 75% for stormy conditions or to pass under a bridge.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement
Advertisement

Plus, Oceanbird will have engines for emergencies and for easier maneuvering in ports.

Plus, Oceanbird will have engines for emergencies and for easier maneuvering in ports.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement

Oceanbird is designed to carry 7,000 cars, but Wallenius plans to apply the same technology to other types of ships, like cruise ships.

Oceanbird is designed to carry 7,000 cars, but Wallenius plans to apply the same technology to other types of ships, like cruise ships.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement

Wallenius worked on the design for several years, and built a seven-meter model to be tested this fall.

Wallenius worked on the design for several years, and built a seven-meter model to be tested this fall.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement

Oceanbird will be ready to order by the end of next year, Wallenius said, and the first vessel will be delivered at the end of 2024.

Oceanbird will be ready to order by the end of next year, Wallenius said, and the first vessel will be delivered at the end of 2024.
Oceanbird rendering. Wallenius Marine
Advertisement