A Wind-Powered Super Sailboat

A new sailboat concept could carry 7,000 cars at nearly the speed of fossil fuel cargo ships.

Cargo ships are a gigantic worldwide business, and freight lines have already made changes to use fewer fossil fuels. That includes slowing down, because freight ships already take long, steady journeys that can absorb some extra lead time. But a wind-powered alternative could even eventually increase speeds without putting more demand on the global fossil fuel infrastructure.

OceanBird has five “sails” that are more like airplane wings or helicopter rotors, using rushing air at different speeds to pull the ship forward. For now, it can reach 10 nautical miles per hour, or knots, and will make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 12 days compared to eight in a fossil fuel cargo ship.

So, like a Prius and other hybrids, the ship will use a fuel engine to get going and then the most efficient energy to cruise. In addition, the development team has made changes to the shape of the ship’s hull and added robust computing power that calculates the best possible configuration to harness the most speed at any give time.

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