This Giant Sailboat Will Transport Cars Across the Atlantic Ocean

The OceanBird could change cargo shipping.

Nov 9, 2020


This Giant Sailboat Will Transport Cars Across the Atlantic Ocean | The OceanBird could change cargo shipping.

The excitement of the crowds watching the tall ships sail into New York harbor on Independence Day is contagious. Gazing on these majestic sailing ships of bygone eras that crossed the Atlantic Ocean carrying people seeking a better life and cargo from the old world to the new, it is hard to imagine that they did so powered only by the wind.

Now, a new type of wind-powered super sailboat will be crossing the ocean again but it will be large enough to carry 7,000 cars. Built by Wallenious Marine, a Swedish Company, the OceanBird is totally powered by wind and shows that the maritime industry can make the break from fossil fuels.

Shipping is the way the world still moves 90 percent of manufactured goods according to Science Alert but it is a high emission industry. A report from IEA showed that international shipping was responsible for 2 percent of global CO2 emissions. While some shipping companies are switching to biogas, there is a still a long way to go to make the industry more sustainable.

According to Science alert, researchers at Wallenious Marine, KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) and SSPA designed the OceanBird to run on wind power with five retractable sails that are 80 meters high and will be controlled by algorithms that calculate how to efficiently use the wind. There is also an auxiliary clean fuel engine to use for getting in and out of harbors.

With an average speed of 10 knots, the ocean crossing will be completed in 12 days, only four days longer than a typical cargo ship. That’s very impressive for a zero-emission sailboat.

The researchers used LiDAR scanning technology to monitor the wind flow and to design the OceanBird‘s sails and hull so that it was capable to cross the ocean using just wind power. The result is a ship that has 90 percent fewer carbon emissions than a conventional cargo ship.

“Our vision is to lead the way towards truly sustainable shipping, and of course we want others to join us,” Per Tunell, chief operating officer at Wallenius Marine said in a company press release. “It is not a competition, but rather a direction we all need to take. By being transparent in the process, we want to inspire others to test the limit to what is possible.”

The Oceanbird is being tested now and when the design is fully realized, it could go into production as early as 2024. But the main goal right now is to drum up world interest in innovating the shipping industry and making it more sustainable. In an industry that large, any change will make a big difference in greening cargo ships.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.