A half-size version of the parafoil kit is undergoing sea trials
Spotted: French company Airseas has developed a parafoil sail—known as the Seawing—that is designed to be installed on cargo ships to reduce fuel consumption. A half-size version of the kite has recently begun sea trials to determine its feasibility for widespread use.
The 500-square-metre Seawing is designed to deploy automatically, first raising up above the ship’s deck on a long cable which allows it to grab the steady, strong winds at heights of 200 metres above sea level. Once at this height, the kite traverses a figure-eight shape at a speed of around 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour). This motion helps to propel the ship below, saving energy and fuel use.
The Seawing is monitored and controlled by an automated system, which also monitors forward wind conditions and re-routes the ship to take the most efficient path possible without affecting arrival time. According to Airseas, the system can be retro-fitted to virtually all ship types in around two days, and it does not get in the way of cargo operations in port.
Vincent Bernatets, CEO and co-founder of Airseas, has described the Seawing as an opportunity to move toward a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry, saying, “Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision becoming reality, with our first Seawing ready to make a tangible difference for our planet… Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. In shipping, we can achieve this by using the full set of tools we have available to us today. Wind propulsion is one of these and will play an essential role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonisation transition.”
While cargo shipping currently accounts for just around 3.5 per cent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it is also, along with air transport, the fastest-growing source of emissions. This is one reason why the race to decarbonise shipping has gained pace recently. At Springwise, we have seen this in innovations such as the use of biofuels and the use of predictive analysis in logistics, to make shipping more efficient.
Written By: Lisa Magloff