Tuesday, July 5

A kite for large ships: this is how this company plans to save 20% of fuel and emissions on its trips

Today, as five, ten or fifteen centuries ago, the wind is frequently the best ally of sailors. Although ships that ply the oceans are now fueled by hydrocarbons, gusts can still be a valuable support for ships, especially for those who want to reduce their energy bills and the polluting footprint of their voyages. From that conviction, the gala company Airseas, which promises to provide ships with “the means to harness free and unlimited wind power” from the seas, is about to test a novel system with which it wants to cut the fuel consumption and emissions of an Airbus-chartered cargo ship . The key: a gigantic 500 square meter parafoil deployable kite.

If they are fulfilled the forecasts advanced by the company itself through Linkedin, the device, dubbed “Seawing”, will begin its testing phase in a matter of weeks, in January, and for half a year its managers will be in charge of check its efficiency and set it up. As a “test bed” will use the City of Bordeaux, a Ro-Ro vessel operated by Louis Dryfus Armateurs and chartered by Airbus to transport aircraft parts between France and the US The automated wind propulsion system is already installed on the ship, representing “a milestone” for the company on the way that will allow “the deployment of technologies assisted by wind.”

Tools to optimize routes

In addition to the kite, Seawing incorporates a team on the deck and bridge of the ships which – by means of carts and winches – allows you to deploy the device automatically. The mechanics that follow is more or less simple: the birlocha is released, raised with the help of a mast and, finally, it is released with a cable that allows it to catch gusts of wind more than 200 meters above sea level. Although the tests in the Ville de Bordeaux will be done with a kite of 500 square meters, the firm explains that the Seawing of “full size” includes a parafoil twice as large, of 1,000 m2, which is capable of reaching an altitude of 300 meters.

With its larger and complete device, Airseas estimates that Seawing will allow ships to reduce your fuel consumption and gas emissions by an average of 20% greenhouse. The firm already has the approval of Bureau Veritas to start its operations and insists on the impact of its proposal, both to achieve greater efficiency in the ships and because of the practical nature of its design. “Seawing can be safely deployed, operated and stored with the push of a button and can be installed on a ship in two days,” he notes.

A team installed on board the ship is in charge of monitoring and controlling the kite with the aim of achieving maximum pulling power. Your EcoRouting Tool –the company specifies on its website– also helps the ship to “benefit from weather opportunities” and “Maximize fuel economy”. How? Using a route optimization algorithm developed by Maxsea that helps guide the boat to optimize its route based on gusts of wind.

“Airseas has developed an advanced automation system that manages aspects of kite operation and optimizes the boat’s route. The kite and the boat are completely recreated in a simulation model that acts as a “digital twin” for the physical system. Equipped with various sensors (inertial unit, GPS, anemometer, etc.), the physical system is in constant dialogue with the digital model, with updates every 300 milliseconds to guarantee the most efficient use of the system ”, they detail from the Nantes-based company .


“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. We can achieve this by using the full set of tools available to us today. Wind propulsion is one of them and will play an essential role in helping maritime transport achieve the much-needed transition from decarbonisation ”, says Vicent Bernatets, CEO and co-founder of Airseas, who recalls that the project started a decade ago. Airseas is not in any case the only company to test similar solutions. As NewAtlas remembers, the German group Skysails has tested similar devices of up to 400 square meters capable of replacing the equivalent of 2 MW of power in the ship’s engines.

Cover image | Airseas


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