While you probably associate kites with your childhood, you may not associate them with the shipping industry.
One company is trying to change that by taking the humble kite to new heights. Founded by former Airbus engineers, French tech company Airseas invented the “Seawing”, a 1000m² parafoil which, according to its website, harnesses wind power to provide 90 tonnes of traction.
It is estimated that this could reduce the fuel consumption and emissions of freighters by up to 40%.
The shipping industry, which transports around 80% of the world’s goods, is a growing source greenhouse gas emissions, which Airseas is determined to change.
According to satisfied, container ships emitted 140 million metric tons of CO2 in 2020, while the industry as a whole accounted for 11% of global transport carbon emissions.
The company aims to equip 15% of the global cargo fleet with its Seawing technology by 2030.
The parafoil flies at an altitude of more than 200m and will be tested next year on the Ville de Bordeaux freighter. Currently chartered by Airbus to ship aircraft components across the Atlantic between France and the United States, the 154-meter vessel will participate in a six-month trial.
He will use a 500 m² half-Seawing to make the trip from France to the United States. The trial will run from January 2022 and has received formal approval from the classification society, Bureau Veritas, to begin operations at sea.
“Ten years ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channeling our unique aviation expertise towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry,” said Vincent Bernatets, CEO and co-founder of Airseas.
“Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision become reality, with our first Seawing poised to make a tangible difference for our planet.”
How does Seawing work?
According to Airsea, the Seawing is operated by a simple switch mechanism, which launches or retrieves the kite. It unfolds and then folds back on its own. All the while, the system collects weather and ocean data, allowing it to adapt to changing weather conditions.
“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 using the full set of tools we have. we have today,” says Bernatets.
Seawing can be deployed on virtually any vessel, Airseas says, helping to support the transition to more sustainable fuels.
“Wind propulsion is one of them and will play a vital role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonization transition.”