French shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) is to trial new suction sails on one of its vessels.

Three of the systems, produced by Spain’s bound4blue, will be fitted on an unnamed ship in 2023.

The two companies first collaborated three years ago as LDA tried to optimise its operations and costs, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of its fleet.

LDA’s engineering, projects and innovation teams worked with the Cantabria-based operation in 2020 on a preliminary study to assess the viability of the installation.

The French owner has a mixed fleet of 52 ships, including bulkers, tugs, ferries and accommodation units.

bound4blue says its eSAILs produce six to seven times more lift than conventional sails by sucking in a small amount of air that adheres the airflow to the unit and generates lift with low drag.

It describes the system as compact, lightweight and low-cost.

The eSAIL can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 40%, with a payback period of less than five years, the company claims.

Financing to launch the LDA project has been closed, with the support of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programme.

Jose Miguel Bermudez, chief executive of bound4blue, said the deal is “a great milestone to expand our technology, as it gives us the possibility of scaling up our systems for larger ships and doing it with a top-tier shipowner in France and in Europe, which is undoubtedly a big step forward for bound4blue”.

He described the support from the EIC as important, not only financially but also in terms of accelerating the technology’s development and the ability to launch far-reaching projects.

“This will undoubtedly take our technology a step forward, increasingly becoming a standard for sustainable maritime mobility,” he said.

Kamil Beffa, chief executive of LDA, added: “We pay particular attention to the decarbonisation of all our ships and are taking a proactive approach to study, develop and adopt solutions in this direction.”

In March, Dutch shipowner Amasus Shipping said it will retrofit two 17-metre-high suction eSAILs on a general cargo vessel.

The shortsea, bulk, general cargo, offshore and heavylift operator will install the bound4blue sails on the 2,850-dwt Eems Traveller (built 2000) during a port call this year.