Photokina 2014 highlights

Shipping

A scientist has proposed that ships could move through the ocean with less friction, if th...

Want to make a ship move faster through the water? Well, one thing that you can do is paint its hull with low-friction or anti-biofouling 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.  Read More

Cargill Ocean Transportation has announced that it will be installing a SkySails wind prop...

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.  Read More

The Biknd Helium is a bicycle shipping case that uses inflatable bladders to protect one's...

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.  Read More

The MP4000 Personal Post Office is a non-digital, non-electronic, portable scale, based on...

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.  Read More

Frogboxes are reusable plastic moving boxes, that users rent in the city they're moving fr...

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.  Read More

The non-lethal laser disorients pirates without any permanent damage

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.  Read More

One and a half liters of petrol are used in the production of every cubic foot of Styrofoa...

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.  Read More

Barnacles are a major cause of fouling of ship hulls (Image: NOAA)

Fouling of hulls is a major problem for world shipping – for private leisure craft as well as large cargo ships – with barnacles being a major culprit. It reduces the performance of vessels and increases their fuel requirements. Medetomidine has proved effective in preventing fouling of ship bottoms and now researchers attempting to develop new, environmentally friendly methods to limit marine fouling have identified the gene that causes barnacles to react to the substance, opening up the possibility of an antifouling paint that is gentle to both barnacles and the environment.  Read More

UPNA's wireless shipping container sensors

If you were shipping, say... a cargo container of pineapples from Hawaii to Poland, you would probably want to know what was happening to those pineapples along the way. For instance, were they allowed to get too hot or too cold? Did they clear customs? Did they follow the planned route? Using wireless radio frequency identification sensors recently developed at Spain’s Public University of Navarre (UPNA ), you could know all these things and more, in real time.  Read More

Unlocking water fern's secrets could pave the way for more efficient ships

Ships are big polluters and one of the key reasons for this is the energy lost due to friction as they move through the water. Numerous innovations in marine paint technology have sought to address this issue and now a group of German material research scientists have unlocked a secret that could radically improve fuel consumption... and it's all down to the marvelous properties of one small plant.  Read More

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