The ingenious Cargoshell shipping container concept
is about to be tested for ISO certification, finally enabling deployment. The composite Cargoshell is both light and collapsible. Though containerisation has streamlined global trade, it remains inefficient. The current steel containers use the same space whether they are empty or full, and waste valuable resources globally being transported and stored empty. A Cargoshell can be broken down by one person in 30 minutes, to a quarter of its original volume.
With marine biofouling on ship hulls increasing drag, which results in an increase in fuel consumption and therefore cost and pollution, the search has been on for a way to prevent fouling that is better than the environmentally damaging, toxic marine paints currently used. Taking inspiration from floating seeds, scientists from the Biomimetics-Innovation-Centre (B-I-C) in Germany have developed a promising new anti-fouling surface that is toxin-free.
Because they are sturdy, waterproof, transportable, and perhaps only a little bit smaller than some low-rent apartments, disused shipping containers have become very popular for conversion into low-impact buildings. Past efforts have included using them as emergency housing
, trendy relocatable bachelor pads
, and portable restaurants
. Now, Los Angeles design group APHIDoIDEA has proposed putting 65 of the things together, to create an environmental education center for the city of Long Beach.
Want to make a ship move faster through the water? Well, one thing that you can do is paint its hull with low-friction
paint, to keep barnacles and other marine organisms from growing on it. According to Prof. Derek Chan, from the University of Melbourne's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, another approach that should work is to heat that hull up to a temperature of over 100C (212F). His proposed method is based on a 255 year-old principle known as the Leidenfrost effect.
For the past ten years, Hamburg-based SkySails has been engineering and producing what are essentially giant kites
, designed to help ships reduce their fuel use by catching the wind and pulling them across the surface of the ocean. The system was put into regular shipping use for the first time in 2008, when one of the kites was attached to the 132-meter (433-foot) multi purpose heavy lift carrier MS Beluga SkySails
. Now, Cargill Ocean Transportation has announced that it plans to use the technology on one of its long-term charter ships, a vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes (27,558 to 33,069 US tons). It will be the largest kite-assisted ship in the world.
If you’ve shelled out several thousand dollars for a high-end road or mountain bike, it’s understandable that you might want to bring it with you when you travel to far-away cycling locales. Should you be traveling to compete in a race, it’s pretty much essential
that you bring the bike you’ve trained on. It’s also understandable, however, that you might not want to entrust the safety of your precious cargo to a simple cardboard box or giant plastic bag. While several companies offer foam-padded bicycle-shipping cases, Biknd takes a different approach with its Helium case – it uses inflatable air bladders to protect your ride.
Although we hear about amazing advances in high technology every day, it’s often the really low-tech ones that most cause us to say “Why didn’t I think of that?”. A case in point is the MP4000 Personal Post Office portable scale – a product that's been around in its current incarnation since the 70s, but that we still thought was worth a mention. Designed primarily for weighing letters in order to determine postage, the non-digital, non-electronic, and barely even mechanical little gizmo is nonetheless accurate enough that its use has been approved by the US Postal Service.
Jerry Seinfeld once commented that when you’re moving, your whole life becomes centered around finding cardboard boxes. While some moving companies will sell boxes to you, after the move you’re then stuck with them, and end up either recycling them after just one use, or filling your basement/garage/attic with the things. If you don’t want to scrounge for free boxes or waste the ones you get, however, there is now an alternative – you can rent some reusable polyethylene Frogboxes.
Despite the commonly held view – among schoolboys anyway – of pirates as a bunch of peg-legged, eye-patch wearing scurvy dogs from the 1700’s (or thereabouts), maritime piracy continues to be a serious problem – and it’s on the rise. To combat this scourge of the seas BAE Systems
has developed a non-lethal laser designed to act as a deterrent against pirate attacks on commercial vessels, such as oil tankers and container ships.
In an age where many oil fields are in terminal decline and our dependence on petroleum reaches critical proportions, it is simply crazy that with every Styrofoam-packaged item consumers purchase, one cubed foot of Styrofoam representing 1.5 liters of petrol is thrown away. Moreover, in the U.S., Styrofoam is said to take up 25 percent of the space in landfills. A much better-sounding alternative is to use naturally-produced EcoCradle. It's created from useless agricultural by-products and mushroom roots, has all the same properties as other expandable polystyrenes (EPS), and is fully compostable.