Michelin announced tests of inflatable sails
French company Michelin’s inflatable and folding sails are expected to reduce ships’ fuel consumption by 20 percent. The first tests have already been completed, and in 2022 the technology will be tested on commercial container ships.
The inflatable sail system was announced in the middle of last year and is called WISAMO (Wing Sail and Mobility). It was developed by the Michelin R&D team in collaboration with two Swiss investors. The project also involves the famous French yachtsman Michel Desjoyeaux, the only one to have won the Vendée Globe regatta twice.
From June to December last year, tests were conducted on Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland. At the end of February, the sail is to be installed on Michel Dejoio’s boat and tested in difficult winter conditions. The Bay of Biscay, known for its severe storms, was chosen as the test site.
Michelin has also reached an agreement with the French company Compagnie Maritime Nantaise to install sails on one of its container ships later this year. Built in 1999, the MN Pelican is more than 150 meters long and regularly sails between Britain and Spain. It will receive a prototype 100m² sail.
Finally, the WISAMO should be adaptable to all sea lanes, and thanks to its folding capabilities, the sails should not cause problems when navigating in port or passing under bridges.