Michelin has a plan, an inflatable sail project to help reduce maritime pollution. It is called Wisamo, but it is not the only brand to reduce the high levels of CO 2 in our atmosphere. Other projects range from using orange peel to make tires to creating “zero emission” factories.
The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the technology you use… Many of the products we consume arrive by sea. Maritime transport is responsible for 14% of emissions according to the first European environmental impact report. Making it more sustainable is the goal. And to make it viable, Michelin has a plan that will reduce CO 2 emissions by 20%.
The project is called Wisamo and it is already taking its first steps or, rather, beginning to navigate the first few miles. Wing Sail Mobility, Wisamo, is an inflatable, telescopic, automated sail system that can be installed on both merchant ships and pleasure craft.
The operating principle is based on huge 100 m 2 inflatable panels that take advantage of the wind – a free, universal and inexhaustible source of propulsion – so that fuel consumption and emissions are reduced by 20%.
And this, why hasn’t it occurred to anyone before?
The sails are easy to install and use thanks to a plug and play system. Just push a button and a small air compressor deploys the telescopic sail. The system then automatically chooses the correct configuration to optimize the navigation of the vessel.
Wisamo captures the wind in a similar way to the way an airplane wing does: it generates energy that propels the boat forward, but with the particularity that when the sails are inflated, the mechanical stress on the fabrics that make them up decreases and the flexibility of the set increases.
The proposal can become one of the ecological solutions to the maritime transport of the future. After carrying out different tests on Lake Neuchâtel (Switzerland), the brand will test it for the first time in a real navigation situation on the MN Pelican ship, a 155-meter-long freighter dedicated to transporting containers.
The route between the ports of Bilbao and the British port of Poole is the one chosen so that in just a few weeks this project that can reduce CO2 emissions in our seas begins to navigate. Wisamo has in its favor a very wide range of use of the sail, especially when sailing upwind –against the wind–, and a retractable telescopic mast that facilitates the entry of ships into ports and their passage under bridges .
What does Michelin have to do with shipping?
Michelin has been working for years to reduce emissions and save raw materials . Wisamo is just one of his latest initiatives. It was born from the collaboration between the company’s Research and Development department and two Swiss inventors who shared the vision of “everything sustainable” with the brand.
The icing on the cake for the project was put by Michel Desjoyeaux, a guy that any apprentice adventurer would want to be like. With three victories in the Solitaire du Figaro, one of the toughest solo regattas in the world, Desjoyeaux is probably one of the most experienced sailors in the world of sailing and an authoritative voice when it comes to the sea.
With him as an image, Michelin has embarked on this adventure of reducing the CO2 generated by maritime transport, because Wisamo can be installed at any time: both during the ship’s construction phase and during the vessel’s useful life.
The environment is sinking. Can Michelin save it?
Tires are a source of continuous research despite the fact that around 90% of their environmental impact occurs during their useful life and not in the production phase.
Today, manufacturing them looks more like a process carried out by an environmental organization than by a French multinational like Michelin. Almost 30% of the raw materials they use are sustainable, the energy used by their plants is of 100% renewable origin and reforestation is among their objectives; So far, 47,000 hectares of land have been repopulated… and there will be more.
The aim, with a view to 2050, is for 100% of tires to be produced with sustainable materials and to achieve carbon-neutral factories.
Win races respecting the environment
But the house cannot forget that mobility is theirs and that the circuits are a test laboratory in which to test new solutions. Among them is a competition tire made with 46% sustainable materials. Initially it has been mounted on a prototype called the GreenGT Mission H24 which is powered by hydrogen and developed for endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans .
Is it a tire to win? It is early to say because it has not yet faced any real competition, but in what it does take the lead is in its commitment to the environment. Among its compounds are orange and lemon peel, sunflower oil, pine resin and recycled steel from containers. It also has a high natural rubber content, and uses recycled carbon black from end-of-life tires.
It is not yet known if it will get on the podium, but what it has achieved is to position itself as a winning product as far as the environment is concerned.