At Michelin’s latest Movin’On event, the tire maker unveiled WISAMO (Wing Sail Mobility) – an automated and telescopic inflatable wing sail that can be fitted to container ships and small pleasure craft.
With Michelin looking to build on its sustainability vision, the inflatable sail will harness wind – a free, universal, infinite source of propulsion – for an array of ships, including freight carriers.
By installing the inflatable propulsion system, it is expected that vessels will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, resulting in less impact on the environment during operations. The most suitable applications for the inflatable sail include ro-ro ships, bulk carriers and oil and gas tankers. The technology can be fitted to new-build ships or retrofitted to vessels currently in service. Michelin estimates that the system could improve a ship’s fuel efficiency by up to 20%.
The gigantic inflatable sail can be utilized on all shipping routes, and has proved effective on many points of sail, especially when close-hauled (windward). The telescopic mast is designed to be retractable, enabling ships to enter harbors and pass under bridges with ease.
Michel Desjoyeaux, world-renowned skipper and ambassador of the project, explained, “The advantage of wind propulsion is that wind energy is clean, free, universal and totally non-controversial. It offers a very promising avenue to improving the environmental impact of merchant ships.” Michelin’s research and development team will use Desjoyeaux’s input and technical knowledge to test the system in real-world shipping conditions.
The WISAMO system will be fitted for the first time to a merchant ship in 2022, and production of the inflatable system will follow upon completion of a trial phase.