Who would have thought that ship would one day progress from wind-dependent to not wind-dependent to wind-dependent? The latter is exactly what the Oceanbird Cargo Vessel by Wallenius Marine is about.
Oceanbird is indeed a wind-powered cargo vessel. But do not confused it with Norsepower, the cylindrical spinning “sail” that uses Magnus Effect. Oceanbird’s technology is literal sail, except that it is NOT made of fabric.
The sail has been updated for the 21st century and beyond with steel and composite construction. So, yeah, this thing dubbed “The Rig” is a rigid structure. Each wing sail towers at 80 meters (260+ feet) tall and has the ability to rotate 360 degrees to catch the wind in an optimal way.
The towering “sails” does contribute to an unusually high CG which make it susceptible to being topple in rough sea conditions, but fortunately, the ship is in total control – thanks to the telescopic design of each sail that allows the height to be adjusted in strong winds, and for passing under bridges.
Updated wind sail is not the only innovation here, however. The steel hull of the vessel has be redesigned to suit a wind-driven vessel. Given that it is nature-driven, do not expect it to make sea-speed record. In fact, it is the opposite. The vessel will, however, be outfitted with an auxiliary engine for as a backup propulsion.
The 200-meter (660 feet) long vessel will be able to cross the Atlantic in about 12 days, carrying up to 7,000 automobiles onboard. That’s a whole 5 days longer than a typical fossil-fuel powered cargo ship, btw. So, whether or not the market is green enough to bear with a longer shipping time remains to be seen.
Can the longer operation time and the fuel it’d save offset for the long shipping time? Then again, the green factor is not tangible. It is a benefit that will enjoy by generations to come. The question is, will profit-driven businesses agree on such sacrifices, assuming that cost-benefit outweighs the longer on-water time?
Images: Wallenius Marine.
Source: The Red Ferret.