The tens of thousands of cargo ships that travel the world’s oceans—carrying everything from jeans and smartphones to cars and bananas—collectively emit more CO2 than most countries. A new ship called the Oceanbird, in development now, is designed to help: With huge, wing-like sails, it runs on wind power, but will be able to cross the Atlantic in less than two weeks, only a few days longer than a ship running on fossil fuels.
The design uses 260-foot-tall rigs made of steel and composite—more like airplane wings than traditional cloth sails—that can rise up and turn to optimally catch the wind. The huge size of the ship, at more than 650 feet long, meant that the sails also had to be large so that it could keep moving even in light winds.The overall design can reduce emissions by 90%. After several years of development, the team will begin testing in the open water soon, by late 2024, it expects to begin selling the vessels.