Giant Kite Powers Cargo Ship Across Atlantic

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January 4, 2022

Now powering the progress of a massive cargo ship across the Atlantic: wind.

Cargo ship kite sail

The French company Airseas has launched a 50,000-ton cargo ship on a series of transatlantic journeys in order to test the efficacy of a 10,000-square-foot kite system that harnesses wind power as fuel for the ship. Seawing, as the system is known, is automatic, needing only the touch of a button onboard to begin deployment. Operating the control system is an automated system once designed for the aerospace industry; former Airbus engineers launched the company in 2016.

A 505-foot-long cargo ship named Ville de Bordeaux left the Brittany coast on Dec. 14, 2021, to begin a six-month trek going back and forth between Europe and North America, delivering aircraft components between France and the United States.

The parafoil kite on the test ship is 5,400 square feet in size and flies 600 above sea level, atop a long cable secured to the ship below. To increase speed, the kite moves in a figure-eight pattern, achieving a rate of 10 times faster than normal wind power.

The company plans for a wider release after the end of the six-month trial. The system is an advancement on a manual version from the German company SkySails in 2014.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2021
David White

Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2021
David White