Swedish shipping company Wallenius and engineering company Alfa Laval have completed the terms of their previously announced joint venture to develop wind propulsion for a broad range of commercial vessels. The new company, AlfaWall Oceanbird will focus on the development and realization of technology for fully wind-powered vessel propulsion.

“Wind has a key role to play in decarbonizing the marine industry,” says Peter Nielsen, Business Unit President, Alfa Laval Marine Division. “Together with Wallenius, we will harness this abundant natural force to meet both climate needs and those of maritime business.”

The companies, which previously worked together on solutions for ballast water treatment, will combine to focus on the opportunities for wind power. They will pursue an innovative means of wind propulsion based on telescopic wing sails, based on designs pursued by Wallenius in its concept of a wind-power vehicle carrier known as Oceanbird. According to the companies, this solution could reduce emissions by 90 percent on the largest ocean-going vessels.

In 2020, Wallenius profiled its concept for the sail-powered car carrier Oceanbird. The futuristic sails are like airplane wigs using the same level of aerodynamic technology. They are designed to telescope from a minimum height of 150 feet above the waterline to permit the ship to pass into harbors to a maximum of 262 feet permitting the ship to operate at optimal conditions or reef the sails in high wind conditions. The array of rigid wing sails, built from steel and composite materials, will be able to turn 360° to make optimal use of the wind.

“Oceanbird wing sail technology will be not only an elegant solution, but also a powerful driver of positive change,” says Per Tunell, COO Wallenius Marine and future Managing Director of AlfaWall Oceanbird. “Our vision at Wallenius is to lead the way towards truly sustainable shipping, and we are proud to partner with Alfa Laval in reaching it.”

The technology will be valid for any vessel type, but it will be implemented first on Wallenius’ design for a transatlantic car carrier. Able to carry 7,000 cars, the vessel will be 656 feet long and will cross the Atlantic in 12 days when sailing at an average speed of 10 knots. AlfaWall Oceanbird will focus primarily on the vessel’s technical sailing aspects, such as the vessel control system that will steer the wing sail operation.

“COP26 put the need for accessible technology in the spotlight,” says Niclas Dahl, who assumed his position as “Decarbonizing shipping is imperative, and wind is a free source of power with a substantial role to play, and minimum need of infrastructure.”

Niclas Dahl became Managing Director, Oceanbird on December 1, 2021, coming from the role of Vice President of Marine Separation & Heat Transfer Equipment at Alfa Laval. Overseeing Oceanbird’s development continues a sustainability journey for Dahl, whose long career includes several years of development and the launch of PureBallast, the ballast water treatment solution that was also created in partnership with Wallenius.

“As the enthusiasm for wind power grows, we’re moving rapidly to build on what we’ve achieved,” says Dahl. “Our next wing sail design is on the horizon, and we’re on target to have a transatlantic car carrier fully propelled by Oceanbird technology in 2025.”

Source: The Maritime Executive