For sustainable society


The wind powered cargo vessel.

Compared to other transportation, marine transportation is an environmentally friendly transportation that can carry a large amount of goods at one time and emits less CO2 and air pollutants. However, due to the growth of the world economy accompanying the development of emerging countries, the volume of cargo transported by sea continues to increase significantly worldwide. As a result, sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which cause air pollution generated from ship fuel oil, are also increasing. Therefore, in October 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) stipulated the tightening of international regulations to reduce the sulfur concentration of ship fuel oil from the current 3.5% or less to 0.5% or less. This regulation started in January 2020, and since the heavy fuel oil C (* 1) that was used in the past can no longer be used as it is, switching to low-sulfur fuel oil(* 2) has become an immediate response. However, low-sulfur fuel oil is more expensive than the conventional heavy fuel oil C, so it is inevitable that shipping companies will increase costs.

In September of this year, bright news arrived for shipping companies facing such cost increases. The news was the announcement of “Oceanbird”, a next-generation car carrier that can sail the world’s oceans with just the wind. Together, Wallenius Marine, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and SSPA, a maritime consultancy, contribute with considerable resources and expertise to create new knowledge and understandings of vessel design incorporating wind propulsion.

To revert climate change and find ways to transport goods in a sustainable way, the global shipping community needs to shift away from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Oceanbird shows that the maritime industry can bring about major change and that zero-emission shipping is possible, using wind as the main energy source. The sailing cargo vessel Oceanbird will leave 90 percent less emissions than today’s vessels. The project proves that cooperation between industry and academia can lead to significant innovations.

Facts about Oceanbird

  • 7,000 cars can be carried in the cargo hold
  • 90% lower emissions than a vessel with a diesel engine
  • 5 rigs with 80 metres tall wing sails for forward propulsion
  • 12 days to cross the Atlantic with the wind as energy source

Oceanbird is also unique in shipbuilding. The wing sails are all of 80 metres tall, giving the ship a height above water line of appr. 105 metres, but thanks to a telescopic construction they can be lowered, resulting in a vessel height above water line of appr. 45 metres. In other words, this feature allows Oceanbird to safely pass under bridges, even in strong winds.

Oceanbird is a car carrier, but it is stated that this concept can also be applied to cruise ships and the like. According to the announcement, Ocean Bird will appear on the sea at the end of 2024. There must be many people who can’t wait to see it.

Photo:Wallenius Marine

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