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New Oceanbird wing sails may be retrofitted

Oceanbird wing design 2022
Words: Maritha Arcos
Photo: Oceanbird

Harnessing wind energy to propel ships is ancient technology, but when the Oceanbird wing sail concept was revealed two years ago it stunned the world. Now, a new and improved wing design is presented: half the size and with same performance.

We have previously written about the Oceanbird project and its cutting-edge wing sail technology. Since the first pictures were released by Wallenius Marine in September 2020 the interest in this revolutionary technology has been enormous. One of the most eye-catching features was the telescopic wing sails jutting up from the vessel. But since then things have changed. With the goal to develop a useful product for a wider market, the engineers at Oceanbird have taken another look at parts of the design. 

“The wing sail has to be as efficient and sustainable as possible for the shipping industry. We want to minimize the technical risk, make them as cost-effective as possible and keep the performance from the previous design,” says Niclas Dahl, Managing Director at Oceanbird.

Wing sails

When the design of the first product line was revealed the characteristic telescopic solution, to allow the vessel to pass under bridges and reduce the power in hard weather, was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the new wing can be folded and tilted to take up less space on deck when it is not being used.

“The two-segment wing sail is aerodynamically optimized and provides a high propulsive power in relation to the wing area. The smaller segment folds into the other before the whole wing sail is tilted,” says Mikael Razola, Technical director at Oceanbird, in a blogpost.

More sustainable

The new wing design is 40 meters high instead of the previously planned 80 and therefore requires less material. A large part of the material that is used in the wing sail is made of material that can be recycled. According to Oceanbird each wing sail will save around half a million liters of fuel and 1,200 tons of CO2 a year. 

Two-segment wing sail
Oceanbird wing sail design

    Retrofits on existing vessels

    The first vessel from the Oceanbird concept will be a specially designed car-carrier but other segments, as well as retrofits on existing vessels, are being evaluated.
     “We want to achieve a shipping revolution. In order for this project to have a significant effect, it has to be possible to implement the Oceanbird concept on already existing vessels,” says Niclas Dahl. “Right now, our biggest challenges are the container and cruise ships, but other segments will most likely be able to mount this new wing design. For vessel owners who need to comply with new emission legislation, for example CII, this solution can’t come soon enough.”

    Oceanbird will place an order for the first wing sail during the second half of 2022. Prototype testing will take place under 2023. The first vessel which is fully on wind propulsion is planned to set sail by the end of 2025 or early 2026.