Michelin kicks off installation of its 1st WISAMO wingsail on MN Pelican

Michelin’s Wing Sail Mobility (WISAMO) project has hit an important milestone with the launching of the installation of the company’s wing sail on the first merchant ship.

Image credit WISAMO

The wing prototype with a surface area of 100 sqm is being installed on Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN’s container ship MN Pélican. The 1999-built vessel is currently located in El Astillero Port, Spain.

“As planned Michelin, French industrial equipment supplier Start2Prod IMECA together with Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN, Michelin Aria and Michelin Recherches et Technologies (MRT Switzerland) teams are fully involved in the installation of WISAMO wingsail on a first commercial vessel,” the company said in an update.

“This new step is a great multicultural experience and moments of diverse competencies sharings to contribute to an important cause toward maritime transport decarbonisation.”

The prototype features an inflatable, retractable, automated wing sail that can be fixed on commercial vessels and pleasure boats. By harnessing the power of wind the company estimates that the system can save up to 20% of fuel per ship.

The wing sail system is suited for ro-ro vessels, bulk carriers, gas carriers, and tankers, and may be installed during the ship’s design phase, as part of the original equipment, or fitted retrospectively on an already operational ship. It is retractable for easy access into ports and under bridges.

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The installation project builds upon a partnership deal between Michelin and the Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN, a subsidiary of SOGESTRAN Group, signed in June 2022 with the aim of testing the pioneering solution on a ship.

The roro-containership MN Pélican, which has been chartered by Brittany Ferries at Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN since 2016, operates two weekly rotations between Poole (Great Britain) and Bilbao (Spain).

The installation will enable Michellin to test the WISAMO wing in actual commercial maritime navigation conditions, contributing to the new technology’s industrial development phase.

“If the trials are conclusive, the partnership deal could open the door to trials using a larger wing sail, marking a great step toward decarbonizing maritime transport,” Michelin said.

Michelin has already tested the prototype on Michel Desjoyeaux’s sailboat. According to Michelin, a number of tests and measures were carried out between June and December 2021 on Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, with a ‘highly positive outcome’. Bolstered by these results, WISAMO was scheduled to move to the second phase of more extensive tests with winter maritime conditions in the Bay of Biscay.

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Wind propulsion is gaining attention in the maritime industry as one of the solutions that could enable ships to boost their efficiency and save fuel while becoming more ecologically.friendly at the same time.

According to Gavin Allwright, Secretary-General at the International Winship Association (IWSA), the roll-out of fleet-wide wind propulsion by 2050 could unlock $1 trillion in fuel savings.

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.

Currently, twenty-one large commercial vessels have wind propulsion systems installed onboard. By the end of this year, IWSA estimates that wind propulsion technology will be installed on around twenty-five large commercial vessels, representing 1.2 million dwt.