Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

While the Michelin Group is commonly known for its travel guides and tires, as well as awarding restaurants for their cooking, the company now wants to help the shipping industry slash its humongous carbon footprint. How? By designing Wing Sail Mobility (WISAMO) — an inflatable sail system that decarbonizes cargo ships with the help of the wind.

The product of a joint collaboration between Michelin E&D and two Swiss inventors, the wing sail system isn’t meant to replace ship engines, but rather complement them with an eco-friendly, readily available power source.

Resembling the design of aircraft wings, WISAMO is essentially a set of inflatable wing sails that deploy at the push of a button. The automated sails inflate with the help of an air compressor and a rising telescopic mast, which can retract quickly when cruising under bridges and into harbors, or if conditions prove too rough.

The 100-sq-m sail harnesses the power of the wind to increase fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent, according to Michelin. As a result, the vessel uses less fuel and emits fewer CO2 emissions. The dual-sided surface of the inflated sail improves performance over traditional flat sails, particularly when it comes to sailing upwind.

The WISAMO sail system is a plug-and-play design that can be retrofitted to existing vessels or integrated into new builds. It’s especially well-suited to oil and gas tankers and roll-on/roll-off ships or bulk carriers, but it could also be used on pleasure craft.

Michelin unveiled the WISAMO project at this month’s Movin’ On global sustainability summit. The company says it will test the sails on a merchant ship in 2022 before heading into full-scale production. Its broader long-term goal is to help cut the carbon footprint of global maritime transport by over 50 percent by 2025.

We’ve previously written about the idea of using traditional sails to lower cargo ship emissions, as well as emerging state-of-the-art vessel designs aiming to achieve the same goal.

Image source: Michelin

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