Alfa Laval and Wallenius to develop modern wind propulsion

Alfa Laval and Wallenius to develop modern wind propulsion
The Oceanbird at sea.

Alfa Laval and Wallenius are forming a new joint venture to develop wind power technology to reduce emissions by 90 per cent on the largest ocean-going vessels.

The joint venture, AlfaWall Oceanbird, will see the companies pursue an innovative means of wind propulsion based on telescopic wing sails.

Though designed for wind propulsion, the Oceanbird technology has more in common with modern planes than traditional sailing vessels. It comprises an array of rigid wing sails, built from steel and composite materials, that generate forward movement instead of vertical lift. These wing sails will be able to turn 360 degrees to make optimal use of the wind.

The technology will be valid for any vessel type, but it will be implemented first on a transatlantic car carrier. Able to carry 7,000 cars, the vessel will be 200 metres 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.

“Wind has a key role to play in decarbonising the marine industry,” said 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.”

“Oceanbird wing sail technology will be not only an elegant solution, but also a powerful driver of positive change,” commented 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 wing sails are up to 80 metres tall and have a telescopic construction,” said Nielsen. “Besides adjusting to catch the wind, they can be lowered to pass under bridges, to handle harsh weather conditions or for maintenance. Because they will interact with the hull in a sophisticated way, they will also require intelligent control.”