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Tuesday, October 26, 2021 

Tyre and rubber company Michelin has joined the International Windship Association (IWSA) in order to contribute to the decarbonisation of the maritime industry and to underline the Groups sustainability strategy.

Since June 2021, Michelin says it has been transforming ambition into action with an innovation that it considers addresses some of the major challenges impacting the future of mobile logistics. Designed to make transportation more efficient while conserving resources and getting a positive environmental impact, Michelin's wind propulsion solution aims to contribute to maritime transport decarbonisation.

The Wing Sail Mobility (Wisamo) project is an automated, telescopic, inflatable wing sail system that can be fitted on both merchant ships and pleasure craft. The system is the product of a collaboration between Michelin's Research and Development division and two Swiss inventors who share the Group’s 'all-sustainable' vision.  The inflatable wing sail harnesses the wind, as a no-cost, universal and inexhaustible source of propulsion. Its design enables a ship to reduce its fuel consumption and thereby have a positive impact on the environment by lowering CO2 emissions.

Gavin Allwright, IWSA Secretary General, said: “We are delighted to welcome Michelin and the WISAMO team to the association, they bring innovative approaches and a great deal of knowledge and passion to IWSA and we look forward to working together to make a future wind-powered fleet a reality.” states Gavin Allwright, IWSA Secretary General.

The WISAMO system is installable on various vessel types, including most merchant ships, and is said to be especially suited to ro-ro ships, bulk carriers and oil and gas tankers. It can be fitted as original equipment on newbuilds or retrofitted on in-service vessels. The wing’s range of use is believed to be one of the market’s broadest, with effectiveness on many points of sail, and especially when close-hauled (windward). It can be used on any maritime shipping route. The telescopic mast is retractable, making it easy for a ship to enter harbours and pass under bridges. In all, the system is thought to be capable of improving a ship’s fuel efficiency by up to 20%, depending on the type of vessel, its route or prevailing weather conditions.

The sail has been developed in collaboration with sail power expert Michel Desjoyeaux. He said: "The advantage of wind propulsion is that wind energy is clean, free, universal and totally non-controversial. It offers a very promising avenue to improving the environmental impact of merchant ships.”

The Wisamo system will first be fitted on a merchant vessel in 2022, and Michelin expects it to go into production following completion of the trial phase.

Michelin’s vision of the future relies on the belief that tomorrow, everything will be sustainable at Michelin. The Wisamo project is Michelin’s contribution to enabling greener, softer maritime mobility in advance of future regulations.

Benoit Baisle-Dailliez, Wisamo Initiative Leader, said: Wisamo aims to contribute to maritime transport decarbonisation acting for the development of wind propulsion for the shipping sector.  Supporting and committing to the involvement of IWSA and its active work was only natural for us. It’s also a great opportunity for the Wisamo team to rely on the IWSA organisation and ecosystem for our development objectives.” 

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