PacSci-Doku: "Old Is New" Answer

By Dennis Schatz - Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs

The question in this edition is:

What may reduce ocean shipping costs while also being climate friendly?

The answer: Sailpower

Scroll down to see the solution.

Most people don't think of cargo ships as major air polluters, but a recent NY Times article by John Goeghengan (August 27, 2012) noted that "if the world's shipping fleet were a country, it would be the world's sixth leading emitter of greenhouse gases." Couple this with the increasing cost of diesel fuel (a 600% increase over the last 10 years) and it makes for a great incentive to find cheaper ways to traverse the seven seas.

Several new designs are in the works to couple sail power with conventional diesel engine power. The University of Tokyo and the B9 Energy Group in Northern Ireland have both developed 160- to 180-foot masts with large sails that capture the free wind energy to reduce the cost of shipping.

These are not feasible for large container ships, but Cargill, one of the largest shippers of grains and other dry goods, plans to outfit some of its ships with Beluga SkySails. SkySails are 3,500-square-foot kites (about the size of the end zone on a football field) that look like the ones used by many parasailers. The company thinks this will reduce its energy costs by 10 to 35 percent. Look here to see an artist's rendition of the SkySail and to learn more about sail powered cargo ships.

Here is the solution:

PacSci-Doku

The best way to keep up with PacSci-Doku, and everything happening at Pacific Science Center, is to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. Just use the sign-up form below.