INDUSTRIAL technology provider Alfa Laval is teaming up with Swedish shipping services company Wallenius Marine to develop and realise technology for vessels with fully wind-powered propulsion.

The joint venture, called AlfaWall Oceanbird, aims to radically reduce the marine industry’s carbon footprint and overall emissions.

Through this venture, the two companies aim to pursue an innovative means of wind propulsion based on telescopic wing sails. This solution could reduce emissions by 90% on the largest ocean-going vessels.

Alfa Laval Marine Division business unit president Peter Nielsen said wind has a key role to play in decarbonising the marine industry.

“Together with Wallenius, we will harness this abundant natural force to meet both climate needs and those of maritime business,” Mr Nielsen said.

Walenius COO and future AlfaWall Oceanbird managing director Per Tunell said Oceanbird wing sail technology will be not only an elegant system, but also a powerful driver of positive change

“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,” he said.

The Oceanbird technology comprises an array of rigid wing sails, built from steel and composite materials. 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.

The 200-metre vessel will be able to carry 7000 cars and will cross the Atlantic in 12 days, sailing at an average speed of 10 knots.

A detail of the Oceanbird’s sails; Image: AlfaLaval/Wallenius

Mr Nielsen said the wing sales would be up to 80 metres tall and have a telescopic construction.

“Besides adjusting to catch the wind, they can be lowered to pass under bridges, to handle harsh weather conditions or for maintenance,” he said.

“Because they will interact with the hull in a sophisticated way, they will also require intelligent control.”

Mr Tunell said 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,” he said.

“Wallenius is committed to wind propulsion, and we know from the experience with PureBallast that Alfa Laval can help us make it a global reality.”

Mr Nielsen said Alfa Laval has supported the marine industry’s evolution for more than 100 years, but today there is new urgency

“Wallenius shares our environmental momentum and the determination to find immediate, workable solutions. Having once helped us explore our planet, wind can now help us rescue it,” he said.