HomeIndustry SectorsEnergy EfficiencyMichelin on redefining maritime mobility and the racetrack

Michelin on redefining maritime mobility and the racetrack

Mobility company Michelin presented two innovations that address some of the major challenges impacting mobility.

Presenting the research during the 2021 Movin’On sustainable mobility summit, Michelin outlined the Wing Sail Mobility (WISAMO) project. This is an automated, telescopic, inflatable wing sail system that can be fitted on both merchant ships and pleasure crafts.

During the summit, Michelin presented this, and one other, innovation that is designed to make transportation more efficient while conserving resources.

Decarbonising maritime shipping and mobility

The system is the product of a collaborative venture between Michelin Research & Development and two Swiss inventors who share the group’s “all-sustainable” vision.  

The inflatable wing sail harnesses the wind, a free, universal and inexhaustible source of propulsion. Its revolutionary design enables a ship to reduce its fuel consumption and thereby have a positive impact on the environment by lowering carbon emissions.

Designed and developed by the WISAMO project team, the system can be installed on most merchant ships and pleasure crafts. Especially suitable for ro-ro ships, bulk carriers and oil and gas tankers, it can be fitted as original equipment on new builds or retrofitted on in-service vessels.

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The wing’s range of use is one of the market’s broadest, with proven effectiveness on many points of sail, and especially when close-hauled (windward). It can be used on every 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 can improve a ship’s fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

A collaboration with Michel Desjoyaux, a world-renowned skipper and ambassador of the project, enables Michelin’s research teams to perfect its development. His input and technical knowledge of this seasoned sailor will enable it to be tested in actual maritime shipping conditions.

As Desjoyeaux points out, “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 ship in 2022, when Michelin expects it to go into production following completion of the trial phase. 

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The WISAMO project is Michelin’s contribution to enabling greener, softer maritime mobility in advance of future regulations. Michelin is also taking action to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain. In addition to this commitment, and in line with its strategic plan, the Group is basing a portion of its growth on the development of new businesses. 

WISAMO Project

A track-proven tire with 46% sustainable content 

For its second innovation, Michelin is set to unveil a racing tire containing 46% sustainable materials, fitted to the GreenGT Mission H24 hydrogen-powered prototype developed for endurance racing. With its totally new innovation engineered for motorsports, Michelin has found what many observers thought was impossible: a way to make a tire with high sustainable content that still delivers superior on-track performance. 

This very high percentage was achieved by increasing the tire’s natural rubber content and using recycled carbon black recovered from end-of-life tires. 

Other bio-sourced or recycled sustainable materials used in the tire include such everyday items as orange and lemon rind, sunflower oil, pine resin and recycled steel from aluminium cans.

As a real-world technological laboratory, motorsports enable Michelin to develop and test new high-tech solutions in extreme usage conditions. With this innovative partnership, Michelin is showcasing its ability to incorporate an ever-higher proportion of sustainable materials into its products without compromising on their performance. 

This year, Michelin announced its commitment to using 100% sustainable materials in all its tires by 2050. This commitment will reach an initial milestone in 2030, with a group-wide target of having 40% sustainable materials in its tires.  

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Alongside its commitment to integrating sustainable materials into its tires, Michelin also uses eco-design processes to attenuate its tires’ environmental impact at every stage in their lifecycle, from raw materials sourcing and production to road use and recycling. 

“We share a core value with Movin’On and its partners, namely the deep belief that mobility, and movement in the broadest sense of the term, are inherent to life and a source of progress,” says Michelin Managing Chairman Florent Menegaux. “The two innovative solutions we are presenting at this year’s global sustainable mobility summit offer tangible, real-world proof of our determination to make mobility increasingly sustainable.”

Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.