Chantiers de l’Atlantique rolls out its 1st first SolidSail mast

Solid Sail Chantiers de L'atlantique
Image credit: Chantiers de L’Atlantique

French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique has completed the manufacturing of its first carbon-fiber mast along with project partners Lorima, Multiplast, Avel Robotics, CDK Technologies and SMM.

Image credit: Chantiers de L'Atlantique

The project was launched three years ago when Chantiers de l’Atlantique gathered experts from the fields of composite materials and offshore involved in the SolidSail project.

Solid Sail is a 1,200 m² rigid sail made of composite panels assembled together, which was developed specifically for large vessels. The project has been in the making since 2009, and following a series of tests in 2016 and 2019, the Saint Nazzaire-based shipyard embarked on the development of a suitable rig, known as Solid Sail / Aerodriving. 

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The sailing system received approval in principle from the French classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) in March of this year.

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The mast was assembled in less than 6 months, the shipbuilder said, adding that the manufacturing of the mast in France was the opportunity to highlight the company’s know-how in the field.

With a weight of approximately 20 tons, this mast is one of the highest and sturdiest in the world and can carry a SolidSail sail of 1500 m2 without any stays. Its features include a height of 66 meters and a width of 2 meters.

SolidSail is a foldable sail made of 100% composite materials created by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. It was engineered to propel Silenseas, which is currently being developed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and is destined to be the largest wind-powered cruise ship in the world.

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The Aeoldrive rig, which comprises the SolidSail mast and sail, is fully automated. Its sprit can rotate 360 degrees and the masts can rotate or tilt 70 degrees to go under bridges.

Partly wind-powered, these ships will see their CO2 emissions reduced by up to 40%. The work on energy efficiency will further reduce the CO2 emissions of the ships by 25% to 40%, the shipbuilder said.

According to Chantiers, potential customers have already expressed their interest in the solution.

“In association with its partners, Chantiers de l’Atlantique is considering a rapid construction of a plant in Morbihan based on the commercial success of this solution to industrialize the manufacturing of these extraordinary masts,” the company added.

Wind-assist and primary wind propulsion have great potential when it comes to decarbonizing the shipping industry, especially in the context of the EEXI and CII regulations coming into force next year as they can help vessels reduce fuel consumption and improve their carbon footprint.

The latest installations of wind propulsion technology on large commercial vessels have pushed the global cargo capacity of vessels that make use of wind as a renewable energy source over the one million tonnes of deadweight (dwt) milestone.

Some of the key benefits of wind propulsion technology include the fact that as a direct propulsive energy source it can be used as a partial or main propulsion system. It requires no conversion thus avoiding power loss of up to 90% for alternative fuels based on a well-to-wake calculation.

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