The shipping revolution uses an extremely old technique

The latest trend in freight transport has its roots in a concept that has existed for some time. Let's say, for about 7,000 years. Technology is the wind, and the instrument is the sailboat.

Appeared for the first time on a painted disc discovered in Kuwait that is believed to have been created around 5,000 BC, sailboats played a key role in discovery, trade and adventure. Would the “Pirates of the Caribbean”, led by Johnny Depp, have been as attractive if they had taken place on a motorboat?

Today, sailing boats are mainly used for recreation. Huge fuel tanks and carriers using cheap fuel have replaced green wind transport as the main mode of world trade. But that transition came at a price. Transported fuel emissions contribute up to 30% to nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere, 9% to sulfur oxides and 3% to carbon dioxide.

In response to growing concerns about global warming, the United Nations International Maritime Organization has set a 40% emission reduction target by the end of the year. during this decade. Responding to a new environmental awareness, companies are studying greener means of transport. Incorporating newly designed materials and computerized operations, these companies are therefore at the forefront of a new era in shipping.

Thus, a Swedish company, Wallenius Marine, joined this move, as it announced last week that it intends to build a wind-powered ship that can carry 7,000 vehicles at a time.

The ship, called the Oceanbird, will have five 80-meter retractable sails, made of metal and composite materials. The sails can be lowered up to 20 meters to pass under bridges or to adapt to changing wind conditions. Upon completion, the 650-meter-long, 130-meter-wide ship will have the distinction of being the largest sailing ship in the world.

Oceanbird can travel with an average speed of 10 knots. This is slightly slower than conventional ships, but if you sail based on the wind, you can eliminate emissions by up to 90%. “Our vision is to pave the way for truly sustainable shipping,” Per Tunell, Wallenius Marine's chief operating officer, told a digital news conference. â € œOf course, we want to be joined by others, â € he added.

When asked why the company was willing to share so many details about the ship's construction, Tunell replied: “It's not a competition, but rather a direction.” That we all need to take. By being transparent in this process, we want to inspire others to test the limits of what is possible. We have to make a change and he simply can't wait, ”he explained.

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