Airbus ro-ro parts carrier Ciudad de Cadiz, operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, is testing a kite traction system developed by Toulouse-based startup Airseas.
The company was set up in September by Vincent Bernatets, who spent much of a fifteen-year stint with Airbus launching innovative products. His team includes aeronautical engineers specialising in aerodynamics, flight control laws, modelling, composite materials and systems architecture.
Vincent and his team have designed a kite traction system that can be retrofitted to any ship. At sea, the kite deploys, operates and furls without crew intervention. After analysing the available weather and ocean data, the system’s routing unit optimises fuel efficiency by identifying opportunities for kite deployment. Once the watch office has validated the route and activated the system, the kite will deploy, contribute maximum traction, and manage its own recovery without further crew intervention, enabling the ship to burn around 20% less fuel.
Artist’s impression of Ciudad de Cadiz with Airseas kite deployed (all rights reserved)
The Airseas team is working with naval architecture bureau LMG Marin France, also based in Toulouse, mapping specialist Maxsea and the French Maritime Academy or ENSM (Écolé Nationale Supérieure Maritime). French environment and energy management agency Ademe awarded the project a €7.2 million development grant under its PIA future programmes scheme.
Airbus contributed 10% of the startup’s initial capital and is making available its Protospace fablab and the Ciudad de Cadiz for tests and proof-of-concept trials under real-world conditions.
Airseas plans to raise serious capital in early 2018 then proceed with full-scale production and marketing. The company hopes to commission its first commercial system in late 2019.
Original by Caroline Britz published on 11 October 2017. Translated and adapted by Steve Dyson.