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Michelin man goes sailing

Published on November 10th, 2021

When you are a multinational manufacturing company in which your business is connected with high emitting emission producers, it’s likely not a bad idea to support efforts seeking to improve the environment. As the second largest tire manufacturer in the world, Michelin is now into boating.

Michelin developed WISAMO, a “plug-and-go” system that allows any watercraft to use wind power with the press of a button. WISAMO is an inflatable “wingsail” that resembles an airplane wing that propel watercrafts forward. The technology is as old as time, but the reinvention allows the wingsail to operate autonomously without the need of a large crew.

The French company is working with renowned offshore skipper Michel Desjoyaux on the project. “The advantage of wind propulsion is that wind energy is clean, free, universal and totally non-controversial,” said Desjoyaux. “It offers a very promising avenue to improving the environmental impact of merchant ships.”

The WISAMO can be fitted to both large freighters and daysailors to reduce its carbon footprint, harnessing the power of the wind to increase fuel efficiency by 20 percent, according to Michelin. As a result, the vessel uses less fuel and emits fewer CO2 emissions.

The tire titan worked with two Swiss inventors to pen the design, which features an integrated air compressor that inflates the sails. The setup can be integrated into a new build or retrofitted to an existing in-service vessel. It’s especially suited to oil and gas tankers, ro-ro ships or bulk carriers.

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