Michelin makes giant sails to make shipping greener
Most people associate the company Michelin with car tyres, guide books and stars for quality restaurants. However, the French tyre maker is now helping ships to be more environmentally friendly. The company has tested giant sails that it hopes will make shipping greener. Shipping currently produces a lot of carbon dioxide as oil tankers, container ships and giant cruise ships rely on fossil fuels to move around the world's oceans.
Experts say the industry produces around 940 million tons of CO2 annually, and that it is responsible for about 2.5 per cent of the world's greenhouse gasses. Michelin's engineers say their revolutionary new sails could reduce the amount of CO2 produced by the shipping industry by 20 per cent.
Michelin is using the ancient technology of sails to tackle the most urgent problem facing the world today – climate change. Boats have used sails for 5,000 years to cross oceans or travel along rivers. The new Michelin sails are different. They are inflatable. This means a ship's crew can fill the sails with air to inflate them to full size.
The sails can be deflated quickly if a ship needs to sail under a low bridge. The sails Michelin tested are 280 square metres in size. The company hopes to start manufacturing and selling them in 2022. A company spokesperson said: "Our aim is to contribute to the de-carbonization of maritime transport." He added that the good thing about wind is that it is a free fuel.