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Tuesday, June 29, 2021 

Aiming to radically reduce the marine industrys carbon footprint and overall emissions, Alfa Laval and Wallenius have formed a new 50/50 joint venture, to be known as AlfaWall Oceanbird, and which will focus on the development and realisation of technology for fully wind-powered vessel propulsion.

Alfa Laval and Wallenius are familiar partners in developing technology. The companies have collaborated previously on PureBallast, and through AlfaWall Oceanbird they will pursue wind propulsion based on telescopic wing sails. This solution could reduce emissions by 90% on the largest ocean-going vessels.

“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.”

Per Tunell, COO Wallenius Marine and future MD of AlfaWall Oceanbird, said: “Oceanbird wing sail technology will be not only an elegant solution, 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.”

Oceanbird technology is said to have 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° 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 200m 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.

“The wing sails are up to 80m 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.”

The AlfaWall Oceanbird JV comes when the marine industry is looking toward the IMO goal to cut CO2 emissions from international shipping. Alfa Laval and Wallenius are committing to decarbonisation targets beyond IMO levels, as are many other companies and a range of countries.

“We cannot wait until the end of the century to phase out fossil fuels,” said Tunell. “We must create realistic alternatives, including the infrastructure for delivering and supporting them. 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.”

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

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