It has been a long time since sailing vessels dominated the seas, but now researchers at Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, in Stockholm, Sweden think it is time for a comeback.

Together with the shipping company Wallenius and the marine technology company SSPA, the KTH researchers will construct a modern sailing ship that can hold over 6,000 cars. A first step is now being taken this autumn when a seven-meter long prototype will be tested in the Stockholm archipelago.

The 450 motordriven ships with similar cargo capacity traveling across the oceans today burn 40 tonnes of fossil fuel per day. The new sailing vessels would reduce fuel consumption by 80-90 percent, the researchers expect.

Before the ship can be built, scientists must deal with some technical challenges. For example, the masts will be 100 meters high (328 feet) and nobody today knows exactly what the atmosphere looks like between 50 and 100 meters above sea level.

The biggest challenge, however, is not technical, but lies in getting the shipping companies to think in a new way. The sailing vessels will take twelve days to travel across the Atlantic towards the seven, eight days it will take for today's motor vessels.

"The hope is that customers are prepared to transport goods more slowly, but with large environmental benefits," says Jakob Kuttenkeuler, professor of marine systems at KTH.

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