Airbus incorporates wind-assisted propulsion technology into Ro-Ro vessels

An illustration of the Ville de Bordeaux equipped with bound4blue's eSAIL® technology. Photo courtesy bound4blue
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Airbus, in partnership with Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and bound4blue, will install wind-assisted propulsion technology on one of its aircraft assembly transport vessels. The technology, known as eSAIL®, uses wind energy to generate thrust, resulting in significant fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions. The system features a sail-like vertical surface and an electrically powered air intake system that creates additional buoyancy, reducing the load on the ship’s main engines. A six-month performance monitoring period will begin in early 2024 to assess the technology’s effectiveness.

The City of Bordeaux, a ship chartered by Airbus, will be equipped with three 22-meter-high eSAILs®. The installation is the first in the roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) sector and the third overall for bound4blue. The use of wind-assisted drives aligns with Airbus’ commitment to reducing CO2 emissions from maritime operations by 50% by 2030. bound4blue estimates that the sails could result in annual fuel savings of up to 560 tonnes and a CO2 reduction of up to 1,800 tonnes for the ship. The project is co-financed by the European Union.

Airbus, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, and bound4blue are all dedicated to promoting sustainable maritime solutions. Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability and Environment at Airbus, expressed excitement about the project and the company’s commitment to exploring innovative approaches to sustainability. Louis Dreyfus Armateurs aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and sees wind-assisted propulsion as a key solution. David Ferrer, CTO of bound4blue, emphasized the significance of this project as the first installation of a fixed suction sail on a ro-ro vessel, demonstrating the stability and effectiveness of the technology.

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