A cargo ship designed to run exclusively on renewable energy is making its debut at the World Expo 2005. It harnesses the power of the sun, wind and water and releases zero emissions into the environment. A concept model of the E/S Orcelle, a cargo ship designed by the Scandinavian shipping company, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, is on display in the Nordic Pavilion. E/S stands for Environmentally sound Ship. Designed for a future with declining supplies of fossil fuels and increasing environmental responsibility, the concept vessel would have a capacity of 10,000 standard cars and would use only renewable energy sources and naturally-charged fuel cells for power.
The ship's design incorporates a cargo deck area equivalent to 14 football fields. Three giant rigid sails manufactured of special lightweight composite materials are covered in solar panels to help drive the ship at its cruising speed of 15 knots. Wave power is utilized through a series of 12 fins, which will be able to transform wave energy into hydrogen, electricity or mechanical energy. The fins double as propulsion units, driven either by wave energy or other renewable energy sources onboard. The Orcelle is also powered by two variable-speed electric propulsion systems known as pods.
This propulsion system eliminates the traditional stern propeller and rudder arrangement. Around half the energy on the E/S Orcelle will be produced by fuel cells, a rapidly developing new technology. These cells will combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate the electricity which will be used in the pod propulsion systems and the fins, while also producing electricity for other uses onboard. The only by-products from this process are water vapor and heat.
The ship's hull is a pentamaran, a new design concept in trans-ocean shipping. The design consists of a wave-piercing slender hull fitted with four outriggers for added stability in heavy seas. Cargo carrying capacity has been optimized, so that the Orcelle could carry approximately 10,000 cars - around 50 percent more than today’s car carriers - while having a similar weight in tonnage terms. This increased level of efficiency has been achieved through the use of lightweight materials, including aluminium and thermoplastic composites, and also by eliminating the need for ballast water tanks.
The company has no immediate plans to build a prototype of the E/S Orcelle. They intend to continue to work with others to develop the technologies embodied within the concept design, so that they do become practical options for car carriers within the next 20 years.