[En images] Airseas tests its giant kite on an Airbus freighter

Hoist high, the sail is making a comeback on our boats. It is not a question of resurfacing the ships of the seventeenth century, which pirates wielded a knife between their teeth, but simply to rehabilitate the assets offered by the wind. Today’s maritime transport does indeed need an ecological source of energy, because it now represents around 2.5% of CO2 emissions on a global scale.

1,000 square meters

The project developed by Airseas, a start-up based in Nantes (Loire-Atlantique), has precisely this ambition. The giant kite she designed can tow freighters using the breeze and can thus reduce, according to her estimates, their fuel consumption by 40% and their CO2 emissions by 20%. Theory gave way to practice on December 21, when the first test in real conditions began.


The device, called Seawing (“marine wing” in French) was installed on the “Ville de Bordeaux”, a vessel chartered by Airbus to transport sections of the A320. This 154-meter freighter left the port of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) to reach Mobile, Alabama (United States). With the push of a button, the captain can activate the telescopic mast and deploy a 500 square meter sail (eventually it should measure 1,000), which will rise approximately 200 meters above the surface. A computer system helps the kite to orient itself optimally, in order to increase its lift.

Other decarbonisation avenues

« About ten years ago, we embarked on an ambitious project to use our expertise in aeronautics to create cleaner and more sustainable maritime transport., explains in a press release Vincent Bernatets, CEO of Airseas and also a former engineer for Airbus. Today, I am more than proud to see this vision come true, with our first Seawing ready to make a tangible difference for our planet. ».

Following the tests carried out with Airbus, which should last six months, the start-up is considering marketing during the year 2023. The Japanese K Line, one of the world’s leading shipowners, has already ordered 50 automatic wings. in June 2019. But Airseas will face fierce competition. Other companies are carrying out similar projects, such as Neoline, which builds wind-powered freighters with the support of Renault. It will also have to convince shipowners to bet on the wind rather than on batteries, liquefied biomethane or hydrogen, other solutions that promise to decarbonize the sector.

Source: UsineNouvelle – Actualités A la une by www.usinenouvelle.com.

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