As modern-day piracy continues to be a real threat to ships in some parts of the world, people are likewise continually coming up with new ways of projecting crews and passengers against attacks. While some anti-piracy systems have utilized things such as sound waves
, a new one uses something that is decidedly lower tech – flailing water hoses.
Of the world's nearly 45,000 cargo ships, many burn a low-grade bunker fuel in their engines and produce pollution equivalent to millions of automobiles. To help reduce that toxic load and keep the price of shipping freight reasonable, engineers at the University of Tokyo (UT) and a group of collaborators have designed a system of large, retractable sails measuring 64 feet (20 m) wide by 164 feet (50 m) high, which studies indicate can reduce annual fuel use on ships equipped with them by up to 30%.
Doesn’t anyone just use shipping containers for shipping anymore? Lately, we’ve seen the tough, stackable, easy-to-transport steel containers used for everything from a traveling restaurant
to a mobile classroom
to an off-grid house
. Now, British company Snoozebox has come up with yet another clever use for them – a modular, scalable portable hotel system made up of multiple tiered containers, that can be set up anywhere within 48 hours.
Let's be clear. The idea of recycling shipping containers as bespoke pieces of micro-architecture is by no means unique to Tsai Design Studio, but its container classroom - real, built, and in use - is no less admirable as a result.
A European project is developing new Air Support Vessel (ASV) hull designs that allow watercraft to ride on a cushion of air to greatly reduce friction between the hull and the water, resulting in more hull speed for less power than conventional designs. The project is part of a EUR10,000,000 (approx. US$13,225,000) project funded in part by the European Union, the Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway, and Norwegian company Effect Ships International AS has recently completed tank-testing in Sweden of two ASV hull models.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are definitely a handy way of tracking shipments
. Instead of simply crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, importers and exporters can check the location and condition of shipped items in real time, by remotely accessing the data being transmitted by RFID tags attached to those items. Unfortunately, many such tags don't work on metal objects such as shipping containers or oil drums, as the metal interferes with the functioning of the tags' antennas. A new tag developed at North Dakota State University gets around that limitation, however - it uses the metal object as
With large cargo freighters being a major source of CO2 emissions
worldwide it's been encouraging to see various efforts to make such vessels more efficient. In recent years we've seen the development of the world's biggest container ship
to cut CO2 emissions per container moved, air bubbles
used to cut the friction between a ship's hull and the ocean, and even plans to return to the use of sails
to cut fuel use. Now Nissan has launched an energy efficient coastal car carrier called the Nichio Maru that employs solar panels, LED lighting, a low friction hull coating hull and an electronically controlled diesel engine to cut fuel consumption.
In February last year, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and transport company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) announced plans to investigate the effectiveness of a system intended to reduce the frictional resistance between a vessel’s bottom and the seawater using a layer of air bubbles. Now MHI has coupled the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS) with a high-efficiency ship hull in the conceptual design for a container ship that the company claims would offer a reduction in CO2 emissions of 35 percent compared to conventional container carrier designs.
While the sight of barnacles on ships' hulls may seem like a very normal part of the maritime environment, the fact is that the presence of such organisms makes a vessel much less streamlined. The harder it is for a ship to slice through the water, the harder its engines have to work and the more fuel it uses. Although there are some anti-fouling coatings that can be applied to hulls, these are often toxic, and can leach into the surrounding water and harm marine organisms. Some recent efforts at eco-friendly solutions have included using fungus
and seed-inspired coatings
, but scientists at Sweden's University of Gothenburg are now reporting success with the use of molecules created by a certain type of bacteria.
Across Africa, along with other parts of the world, there are many villages that are inaccessible by road for at least part of the year. The only reasonably fast way of getting medicine and other essential goods to these locations is to fly them in by conventional aircraft. Such an approach can be costly, however, and requires the services of a trained pilot. Matternet, a startup company currently based out of Silicon Valley's Singularity University is proposing an alternative - a network of ground stations for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which would inexpensively deliver payloads to remote communities.