Oceanbird at port

The Oceanbird concept

What is

The Oceanbird concept?

The Oceanbird concept shows that it is possible to reduce emissions from vessels by up to 90% if all emissions-influencing factors are aligned. These conclusions are based on data simulations as well as physical tests, for example wind tunnel test, model testing in open water and water tanks and Lidar measurements. The Oceanbird concept was developed in a three-year Swedish R&D project team consisting of Wallenius Marine, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and SSPA/RISE and supported by Swedish Transport Administration.

When the Oceanbird concept is brought into the reality of commercial logistics systems, there are several challenges to consider, such as inflexible arrival time at ports and the environmental impact of longer crossings in a slower speed would have on the size of the world fleet. Still, with these factors taking into consideration, we see a significant emission reduction on the first vessels from the Oceanbird concept.

With the concept as a solid foundation – Oceanbird is taking two tracks to achieve a shipping revolution: Reducing a lot on a few and even more from a lot.

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.


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). Therefore, 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, by contributing to changing, updating, and remodeling an entire industry.

Cuts air and sound pollution

Besides from reducing air emissions, Oceanbird will also decrease underwater sound pollution. The Oceanbird vessels would be far quieter in the water, since it will be less 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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Answers to common questions

What is the Oceanbird concept?

Oceanbird is a concept for wind-powered vessels. The concept, including wing sails, special designed hull and speed/route recommendations, showed that it is possible to reduce emissions from vessels by up to 90 percent compared with conventional vessels.

The Oceanbird concept was developed in a research project between Wallenius Marine, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and SSPA, with support from the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). It is a technically challenging concept 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. Performance and safety was evaluated using a combination of computer simulations and physical experiments.

Learn more about the cluster behind the Oceanbird concept.

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. Orcelle Wind will have six Oceanbird Wing 560.  The vessel will have a capacity for approx. 7,000 cars, be approx. 220 meter long, 40 meter wide and 70 meter height above water. The ambition is to commence sailing in early 2027.

Read more in the blog post“Meet Orcelle Wind”  and in our page about New built vessels.

The first vessel with an Oceanbird Wing will sail already in mid-2024. Oceanbird will install a wing sail on the existing Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel Tirranna, as part of the EU Founded project Orcelle Horizon.

Read more about Orcelle Horizon.

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  560 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 Marine developed the Oceanbird concept in a research 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.