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Tuesday, September 8, 2020 

A Swedish collaborative project aims to have a zero-emission wind-powered car carrier vessel, known as wPCC, completed and sailing across the oceans in 2024.

The project partners, Wallenius Marine, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and maritime technology company SSPA have received SEK27m support from the Swedish Transport Administration. The wPCC will be the world’s largest sailing vessel, with 90% less emission than today’s vessels, but it will take 12 instead of seven days to cross the Atlantic, with wind as the main energy source.

Wallenius Marine, which owns the concept, is the project coordinator, and contributes design and logistics expertise. KTH addresses the challenges within areas such as aerodynamics, sailing mechanics and performance analysis, while SSPA applies expertise within development and validation of new testing methods, aerodynamic and hydrodynamic simulation methods and risk simulation.

Within the concept, the rigging and hull will work together as a single unit to harness the wind in the most efficient way. The hull has been designed from the outset as a large sailing cargo vessel that will transport heavy cargo over long distances for long periods of time. It is a mix of aeronautic and shipbuilding technology. Performance and safety are evaluated by using a combination of computer simulations and physical experiments.

Carl-Johan Söder, Naval Architect, Wallenius Marine, said: "The partnership is absolutely key. Between SSPA’s knowledge of model testing and advanced fluid dynamics calculations, KTH’s expertise in problem solving and our design and logistical experience, I think we’re on to a winner."

The 200m-long, 40m-wide wPCC will have capacity for up to 7,000 cars. With a maximum speed under sail of 10 knots, it is expected to cross the Atlantic in 12 days. The design is scheduled to be ready to start building the first ship by the end of 2021, with an entry into commercial service in late 2024.

The sails are to be made of a mixture of metal and composite and will be almost 80m high, twice the height of those on the current largest wind-powered vessels. It will be possible to ‘reef’ the sails, reducing their height to around 50m. The vessels will be fitted with engines to enable manoeuvring in and out of port and for safety reasons, though Wallenius will be specifying the most environmentally-friendly engine and fuel options.

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