February 28, 2007 Biofouling of marine organisms on ship hulls has been a global problem since man crafted the first boat. These days, many marine enterprises suffer the problem and the cost of reducing it, in aquaculture, offshore industries and harbours. In shipping alone, marine biofouling and its most significant organism, the barnacle, increase drag, adversely affect fuel consumption, increase pollution (via the workload on the machinery and downtime due to dry-docking. The annual global cost of cleaning alone is in the billions of dollars. Toxic paints are the most prevalent current anti-fouling strategy but they cause severe environmental disturbances due to the emission of toxic substances into the marine environment. Currently used toxic paints based on Tributyl tin oxide (TBT) are the first target as they generate unwanted effects at non-target organisms and will be banned by 2010, but this ban may be followed by the prohibition of other substances in marine paints. Now a new type of paint has been developed which uses an extract from the microscopic fungus Streptomyces avermitilis to poison barnacles. The fungus lives in the ocean and is extremely poisonous to acorn barnacles and other crustaceans, a feature based on the environmentally friendly defense of the fungus against being eaten. A new study from Goteborg University in Sweden has found that when this fungus is added to paint for ship hulls, the surface remains entirely free from barnacles. As little as a 0.1-percent mixture of pure fungal extract in paint is sufficient to affect the nervous system of barnacles and prevent any growth and the fungal extract is toxic only as long as the paint is on a painted surface. When the paint is dissolved in sea water, the activation of the poison appears not to take place, making the paint apparently harmless to organisms in the open sea.
With waterfront property highly prized the world over, we see the amphibious market as one of the next great opportunities – the people with the greatest disposable income will have the greatest need for amphibians. At the same time, new techniques, technologies and materials are yielding a new breed of amphibious craft that are seemingly omnipotent. Most amphibious craft to date have been biased towards performance on land (such as the Splash
) or water (such as the Aerosan
or Sealegs here
, and here
). Only the Quadski
seems to have a balance of performance on both, and it is limited to one, perhaps two people. Now a new technology threatens to seriously disrupt this marketplace. Fast Track Amphibian
has entered the development phase for a product line of all-terrain amphibious vehicles using tracks as their means of propulsion on both water and land. Nearly all other amphibians comprise two drive systems – the FastTrack does it all with one, gaining a significant advantage in weight. The patent-pending technology that enables the tracks to work as the sole means of high-speed propulsion on water is unique. It enables a vehicle to “get out of the hole, over the hump and on to the plane from dead in the water. Videos of what this means in the real world can be found here
. FastTrack equipped vehicles can start, stop and cruise on water like a boat as well as traverse diverse terrain, from ice and snow to swamps, deep mud, mountains and deserts - all at very high speeds. The first technology demonstrator can achieve 39 mph on water and 55 mph on land, all in comfort thanks to the air shocks and massive suspension system, which can be retracted or extended to suit the circumstance. The technology demonstrator carries six people at high-speed almost anywhere, giving it seemingly limitless opportunity in the areas of recreation, utility, search and rescue, ship-to-shore and military operations. Potential recreational uses include sports and racing, hunting and fishing, wilderness touring and camping. This vehicle will take you up a muddy hill in the forest better than a motorcycle, take swamp and tundra and ice and snow in its stride and enter and exit the water in almost any conditions … it is a genuine all terrain vehicle and transitions from one medium to another seamlessly. It makes very soft, comfortable, water entries at 40 mph and similarly smooth egresses at 20 mph. The first vehicles the company produces for non-military customers will be hand built and custom made for those who can afford to be the first owners of this unique machine. These vehicles will have aggressive styling, two or five place plush seating and 300 plus horsepower for speeds of 60 mph on water and 80 mph on land. More videos are available here, showing the FastTrack 1 driving down a country road
, running on powder snow
, pulling two water skiers
, on the plane with tracks down
and tracks up
, a ramp entry into water at over 40 mph
, and watch how easily it crosses this river
. This short video shows the beastie doing 37 mph on water
February 22, 2007 Innovation is abounding in the marine area at present with some enthralling concepts hitting the internet of recent times, with Industrial Designer Arnold Freidling’s Hydro-Foil sailing yacht “eXplorius” being the latest. With wind speeds exceeding 10 knots, the underwater wings lift the hull of eXplorius out of water, reducing friction and displacement to a minimum. Gliding over the waves at sailing speeds of up to 32 knots, this yacht makes transatlantic trips for two to six ‘maritime jetsetters’ possible. So far the eXplorius is a design project, but during the development of the project, Freidling consulted with a marine engineer, so his yacht concept is very realistic. He is currently seeking investors who are interested in taking this design concept to market.
February 22, 2007 Recreational vehicles will come in many different forms in the future as a raft of developing enabling technologies spawn new categories of technologically-enhanced ground, water and aircraft – not only are these traditional categories splintering, but there are new variations of toys for big boys, some of which will develop their own categories – craft like the part boat, part sled, part ground-effect Tupelov aerosan
, the Bionic Dolphin
, the SeaPhantom
, a host of recreational submarines such as Deep Flight
, the amphibious Quadski
and the list just goes on and on of new RVs that break out their own category. One emerging area of enormous promise is that of powered ground-effect RVs – we’ve already seen human-bearing inflatable towable water kites such as the Kite Tube
and the Manta Ray
and the now dormant Sharkski
but with light weight, high power and computer-aided design, the concept of an affordable powered ground-effect vehicle for under US$50,000 is within reach. The Skimmer is a small jet-ski like ground-effect airplane that starts in the water and can be flown over sea, rivers and lakes, steered partially by handlebars and partially by moving one’s body weight, similar to the way a motorcycle is ridden. With a maximum speed of 100 km/h and maximum flying height is 1.5 metres, the Skimmer offers maximum excitement and minimal fuss, because no flight papers are necessary. Dutch product designer Roel Verhagen originally conceived the Skimmer concept as an entrant in the 2005 Braun Prize.
February 16, 2007 In an interesting development, the same technology that is used in noise-cancelling headphones (roughly speaking) is to be applied to heavy marine engines to reduce their noise and vibrations. The vibrations from marine diesels spreads through the entire hull, but researchers have now found a way of blocking the sound immediately below the engine with the help of computer-controlled counter-vibrations from an active damper between the engine and the bearing by which the engine is attached to the hull. This active bearing is made primarily from piezo-ceramics, materials that can change their shape when electrically stimulated. If they are stimulated very quickly, they generate high-frequency vibrations – which are exactly what marine engines need. Using sophisticated sensors, the scientists measure the engine’s vibrations and trigger the piezo-ceramics such that they precisely counteract this motion.
February 16, 2007 Earthrace
is a bid to break the 75 day world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat, and using only renewable fuels. Circumnavigating the globe represents the pinnacle of powerboat challenges, and at 24,000 nautical miles, is also the world's longest race. The current record of 75 days was set by British boat Cable & Wireless in 1998
and the most curious aspect is that outright record is still safely held by sail power (The World’s Fastest Catamaran
), at 50 days 16 hours. The 1,200 horsepower Earthrace aims to smash the powered record by completing the voyage in less than 65 days, but is unlikely to get near Orange II’s wind-powered record. Wave piercing is a key element in the boat’s design, as it allows the 78ft wave piercing tri-maran to run continuously at high speed in any conditions. Earthrace will begin its record attempt on March 6 and is still seeking US$500,000 in additional sponsorship for its unique attempt.
February 14, 2007 As a leap forward in the capability of watercraft, the SeaPhantom is landmark. The company’s catchcry “Helicopter speed, powerboat price” explains how effective it is, but the devil is in the detail and this toy is a combination of several technologies, each of them adding a significant dimension to the capabilities. At low speeds, it’s just like a boat, then as it transitions to medium speeds, it lifts out of the water on proprietary shock dampened 'foils' which are outboard on each side and are the marine equivalent of a desert race car suspension – long travel and capable of withstanding massive impacts. This is a very serious suspension system with non-corrosive fiberglass leaf springs and billet-aluminum airbags tested to 60,000 pounds for dampening the wave impacts. At these speeds SeaPhantom is like a trike with two wheels (the foils) at the front and one driving wheel – in this case a 625hp Ilmor V-10 running through a propulsion system adapted from an offshore race boat. Once there’s clear water in front of it, tweak the speed and the lifting-body airfoil design picks it off the water in ground effect, radically reducing hydrodynamic drag. Without all that resistance of the water to contend with, the SeaPhantom can rocket along at 120 mph using just a fraction of the V-10’s 625 horsepower with radically-improved fuel consumption.
February 5, 2007 Greg Kolodziejzyk set a world record for human powered vehicles last July when he pedalled his streamlined recumbent bike 650 miles in 24 hours
. Now Greg is embarking on an even bigger adventure, first planning an attempt at the 24 hour human powered boat distance record and then following it up with an attempt at the Human powered Transatlantic record
. Unlike most previous HPV Transatlantic attempts which have involved rowing (275 attempts, 273 by rowing, 176 successful, six deaths
), Greg’s boat will be propeller-driven, though he’ll be after the same record which currently stands at Frenchman Emmanuel Coindre’s 42 days, 17 hours from Spain to Barbados. The 24 hour record stands at 168 km and Greg’s calculations from his 24 hour land record put him in with a very good chance of smashing it - he knows he can average between 100 to 110 watts output for 24 hours, which gives him a speed of 9 km/h in water in his new boat which should result in 216 km for 24 hours. Video here
and excellent images
with this story.
January 30, 2007 Last November we wrote about a extreme experimental boat
that had been seen in U.S. waters and at that time, little was known about the amazing spider-like water craft. Now we can lift the lid on the machine, based on an original concept by Ugo Conti of Marine Advanced Research. The appropriately named Proteus (Proteus was an early sea-god capable of changing shape and assuming many forms) is the first of a new class of watercraft based on a patented technology that delivers a radically different seagoing experience. Wave Adaptive Modular Vessels (WAM-V)
are ultralight flexible catamarans modularly designed to allow for a variety of applications and to fit the requirements of specific users, missions or projects. Unlike conventional boats that force the water to conform to the their hulls, the WAM-V adjusts to the surface of the sea, with the superstructure flexibly connected to specially designed pontoons by several components that actually move in relation to one another. Springs, shock absorbers and ball joint articulate the vessel and mitigate stresses to structure, payload and crew. Two engine pods, containing the propulsion and ancillary systems, are fastened to the hulls with special hinges that keep the propellers in the water at all times. The modularity of a WAM-V allows the payload to be switched with a different one in less than an hour. In most versions, the payload is a self-contained craft that can lower to the surface, detach and operate under its own power. The switchable payload module effectively changes the WAM-V into an entirely different craft in less than an hour. Some examples of possible payload modules include a luxury cabin for two, cruising accommodations for six passengers, twelve passenger transport, a scuba diving platform or an emergency response unit.
January 25, 2007 The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence
has awarded a contract for the design, construction and evaluation trials on a technology demonstrator vessel, which will be a contender for the next generation of fast landing craft. If selected, the high speed Partial Air Cushion Supported CATamaran vessel (PACSCAT) will be used to support future amphibious operations. PACSCAT technology is also being developed for high speed freight transport on inland waterways
within Europe. The freight vessel is expected to do around 20kt (37km/h), with a payload capacity of 2000 tons, so the development of the high speed landing craft will be interesting to watch. The increased speed and payload balance of the PACSCAT will make 'over-the-horizon' amphibious operations feasible for task force commanders. They will be able to stay offshore at a safe distance and return at high speed to recover troops when required.