Oceanbird at port

The Oceanbird concept

What is

The Oceanbird concept?

Oceanbird is about revolutionizing technology that gives an alternative, or complement, to fossil-driven cargo vessels.  The whole Oceanbird concept includes wing sails, as well as a special designed hull and recommendations regarding speed and routes, but it is also applicable for existing vessels (retrofit). Extensive simulations and model testing at sea and in water tanks, have proven that it is possible to significantly reduce emissions from vessels by using wind power.

The first vessel from the Oceanbird concept will be a car-carrier able to transport around 7,000 cars. The concept is based on a 200 metres long and 40 metres wide cargo vessel. To be able to get in and out of harbours – and as a safety measure and to be able to keep schedule – the vessel will also be equipped with an auxiliary engine, powered by the best alternative available today.

The first vessel with a full-scale wing sail prototype will be sailing in 2024. Our aim is to sail the first vessel with a full set of Oceanbird wing sails in 2026.

How does

The Oceanbird wing sails work?

The main energy force comes from wind, but the Oceanbird wing sails have more in common with airplane wings than traditional sails. Therefore, aerodynamics are important in developing the concept. The wing consists of a main sail and a flap, optimizing the aerodynamics forces.

When entering harbors, passing under bridges or if the surface area needs to be reduced due to strong winds, the smaller segment folds into the other before the whole wing sail is tilted.

The wing sails in this first product line are around 40 metres high and 14 metres wide. Prototypes of the wing sail will be tested on land in the end of 2023, and at sea in middle of 2024.

One wing sail on an existing vessel will save around half a million-liter fuel, equal to 3,000 barrels diesel, a year and 1200 tonnes CO2. The calculations are based on wind probabilities along main trading routes, provided by IMO, on vessels that isn’t adopted for wind power sailing and is not on an optimal route for wind powered sailing. The whole concept with special designed hull, full set of wing sails and speed/route recommendations, will reduce much more.


Why do

We need to move an industry?

Shipping is an energy-efficient way of transporting goods. Despite this, shipping needs to become more sustainable. Maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, even more than airplanes. If the industry was a country, it would be the sixth biggest polluter, above Germany.

These emissions are projected to increase significantly if mitigation measures are not put in place swiftly. If we continue business-as-usual, the emissions will increase with 50%-250% by 2050, according to International Maritime Organisation (IMO). IMO has set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent per transport work from international shipping by 2030 compared to 2008. Oceanbird want to take de-carbonisation one step further, contributing to changing, updating, and remodeling an entire industry.

Cuts air and sound pollution

Besides from reducing air emissions, Oceanbird will also decrease sound pollution in the water. The Oceanbird vessels would be far quieter in the water, since it will be no sounds from generators or engines but propeller cavitation. This will mean a lot for whales and other marine mammals which depend on hearing for navigation, reproduction and finding food.


Watch it sail

A sneak peek at the future

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A shipping revolution Wing sails, kites, rotors… – there are a lot of alternatives for wind propulsion solutions on vessels nowadays. Gavin Allwright, co-founder and…

Answers to common questions

What is Oceanbird?

Oceanbird is a concept for wind-powered vessels that are able reduce emissions from the vessels by up to 90 %. That includes wing sails, special designed hull and speed/route recommendations.
The Oceanbird concept is a technically challenging project where the rigging and hull work together as a single unit to harness the wind in the most efficient way possible. It is a mix of aeronautic and shipbuilding technology. We can evaluate performance and safety using a combination of computer simulations and physical experiments.

The company is named after this revolutionary concept. AlfaWall Oceanbird will supply wing rigs for ocean-going ships, new buildings but also retro-fits. Depending on the ship type, size, speed, route etc the wing rigs will have the ability to generate the entire propulsion power for needed but it could also be used as a compliment to other propulsion systems.

What do you base 90% reduction on?

We have done, and are still doing, extensive simulations in the development project together with KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) and SSPA. The simulations shows that if an Oceanbird vessel has an average speed of 9-10 knots, we only need to use the engine 10 % of the time. Even if it will go a few knots faster, it will still have significantly reductions.
Read more in the blog post “Why we claim a 90% reduction of emissions”

What is the difference between wind assistance and wind propulsion?

In wind assistant solutions, the main energy force comes from an engine which is supported by wind. Wind propulsion means that the main force comes from wind, supported by an engine.

When will the first Oceanbird vessel sail?

Wallenius Wilhelmsen announced in February 2021, that they intend to order a vessel from the Oceanbird concept, which they will call Orcelle Wind. If everything goes according to plan, it will be sailing in 2026. So far, the project follows the time plan.

Read more in the blog post “Meet Orcelle Wind”.

Why will the first Oceanbird vessel be a car-carrier?

Modern cars with low or zero emission are important to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. The car industry is making giant leaps in reducing its environmental footprint, and of course they are also looking at every part of its supply chain.

Why do you need an engine onboard?

An engine is necessary to maneuver in and out of port, for safety reasons and for unfavorable weather. However, we will use the best engine available from an environmental perspective.

How does the wing sails works?

The Oceanbird wing sail consists of a main sail and a flap, optimizing the aerodynamics forces. To allow the vessel to pass under bridges and reduce the power in hard weather, the wing can be folded and tilted.

It is half the size but shows the same performance as previous design, allowing a smaller footprint: both environmental and on deck.

Read more in the blog post “Revealing the new wing design”

Why did Alfa Laval and Wallenius start the company AlfaWall Oceanbird together?

Wallenius developed the Oceanbird concept in the wPCC project together with KTH and SSPA. Entering the next phase, Wallenius needed a partner for developing the wing sail system and being able to provide them to the market.

Wallenius and Alfa Laval have worked together before in developing PureBallast and shares the same values around sustainability and pioneering spirit.

Read more at About us.

Why take such a drastic step as aiming to reduce 90% of the emissions?

We cannot wait until the end of the century to phase out fossil fuels. We must create realistic alternatives, including the infrastructure for delivering and supporting them. Today there is new urgency. We share an environmental momentum and the determination to find immediate, workable solutions.

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