We normally think of the Michelin brand in doughnut form (or an inflated mascot). But at the recent 2021 Movin’On World Summit on sustainable mobility, Michelin showcased innovations that take it beyond the usual. Still related to mobility, Michelin’s concepts address some of the major challenges impacting the future of transportation.
The latest solutions from Michelin are designed to make transportation more efficient while conserving resources. The first is its WISAMO (Wing Sail Mobility) project which is an innovative solution to help decarbonize maritime shipping.
The WISAMO project is an automated, telescopic, inflatable wing sail system that can be fitted on merchant ships as well as pleasure craft. The system is the product of a collaborative venture between Michelin Research & Development and two Swiss inventors who share the Michelin Group’s “all-sustainable” vision.
This inflatable wing sail concept is able to harness wind energy which is a free, universal and inexhaustible source of propulsion. The sail’s revolutionary design will enable a ship to reduce its overall fuel consumption thus creating a positive impact on the environment by lowering emissions and fuel usage.
Designed and developed by the WISAMO project team, the system can be installed on most merchant ships and pleasure craft. It is especially suitable for ro-ro (roll on/roll off) ships, bulk carriers and oil and gas tankers. The system can be fitted as original equipment on newbuilds or retrofitted on in-service vessels.
The wing sail’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 or pass under bridges. It is estimated that 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. The input and technical knowledge of this seasoned sailor 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 first WISAMO system will be fitted on a merchant ship in 2022, when Michelin expects it to go into production following completion of the trial phase.
The WISAMO project is Michelin’s contribution to enabling greener, softer maritime mobility ahead 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.
In addition, Michelin also unveiled a racing tyre at the summit. This tyre is made up of 46% sustainable materials, and 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 i.e. a way to make a tyre with high sustainable content that still delivers superior on-track performance.
This very high percentage was achieved by increasing the tyre’s natural rubber content and using recycled carbon black recovered from end-of-life tyres. Other bio-sourced or recycled sustainable materials used in the tyre include such everyday items as orange and lemon rind, sunflower oil, pine resin and recycled steel from aluminum cans.
As a real-world technological laboratory, motorsports enables 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 also announced its commitment to using 100% sustainable materials in all its tyres by 2050. This commitment will reach an initial milestone in 2030, with a Group-wide target of having 40% sustainable materials in its tyres.
Along with its commitment to integrating sustainable materials into its tyres, Michelin also uses eco-design processes to attenuate its tyres’ 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.”