Testing in 2022 for commercial ship sails

Published on January 18th, 2022

France’s Michelin Group, best known for its long history of innovations in tires, continue to move forward with its designs for an inflatable wing sail system that the company hopes will reduce fuel consumption and emissions for commercial ships.

Announced in mid-2021, the Wing Sail and Mobility (WISAMO) system has undergone its first tests and the company has an agreement to install a smaller scale prototype on an operation commercial ship in mid-2022.

The WISAMO concept was developed jointly by Michelin’s research and development department in collaboration with two Swiss investors and involves famed French long-distance sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, the only person to twice win the Vendée Globe race.

WISAMO is an automated, inflatable, and retractable, wing sail that allegedly can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. Michelin says it is particularly suited to ro-ro vessels, bulk carriers, gas carriers, and tankers and can either be included in original designs or retrofitted.

Sail GP

Michelin will install a prototype version of the sail on the Ro-Ro container carrier in 2022. The prototype on the MN Pelican will have a surface area of 100 sq. meters providing the opportunity to test the technology in actual commercial maritime navigation conditions. Built in 1999, Pelican is a 507-foot long vessel that makes twice weekly trips between Poole, Great Britain and Bilbao, Spain.

The tests aboard the in-service vessel come after the group completed a number of tests and measurements between June and December 2021 on Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. These more extensive tests will include winter maritime conditions in the notoriously difficult Bay of Biscay, known for its strong storms and heavy sea conditions.

The first technical tests demonstrated, Michelin reports, that the wing sail system offers a wide range of use, including “close-hauled” (headwind), providing what they believe is one of the widest operating ranges for modern sail technology. They project that it can be used on all maritime routes and because it is retractable, it provides easy access for navigation in ports and under obstacles such as bridges.

Source: The Maritime Executive

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