Worst Cruise Ever? Scientists Predict That In 2050, Ships Will Be Able To Sail Directly Over North Pole.

North Pole signThe northern sea route, or trans-arctic passage, has been passable by ships for the last 7 summers and now comes information that the North Pole may be open to ship traffic by 2050. According to a report from Dr. Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson, the shortest route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans will be accessible in 2050 by ice-strengthened ships that can travel directly over the North Pole. From the Guardian:

“The scientists took two classes of vessels and then simulated whether they would be able to steam through the sea ice expected in seven different climate models. In each case they found that the sea routes opened up considerably after 2049.”

The recent opening of the Northern Sea Route, for ship traffic from Norway to China, has saved shipping companies between $230,000 – 400,000 in time and bunker fuel; crossing directly over the North Pole could save shipping companies an additional 40%. To counter these savings, putting a value on the “holy crap!” factor of sending ships over the North Pole in our lifetime is incalculable. Sailing over the North Pole should not be a goal – it should be viewed as an obstacle that needs to be avoided. [Guardian]


Amazon Ships Bubble Wrap Order Wrapped In Bubble Wrap.

Amazon wraps bubble wrap in bubble wrap.Trying to keep the box sturdy for stacking and shipping is why Amazon would wrap bubble wrap in bubble wrap. Why somebody would order bubble wrap from Amazon is more difficult to figure. [Reddit via Consumerist]


The Emerald Ace: (Sort Of) Prius’ing Up The Shipping Industry

The Emerald Ace - Mitsui O.S.K. LinesThe Emerald Ace is a 199m x 36m cargo ship that when fully loaded, can carry up to 6,400 cars and travel at 20 knots. All of these specs are pretty standard for cargo ships but what separates the Emerald Ace from the others is that it’s a hybrid engine running, solar power generating, treehugger of a ship. Built by the Mitsui OSK Lines shipping company, the Emerald Ace has a 160kW solar generation system and its lithium-ion batteries, that also act as ballast for the ship, can store 2.2MWh of electricity. It runs off diesel power while out to sea and then is powered by solar-charged batteries during the berthing process and while in port, producing zero-emissions.

Until I read about the Emerald Ace, I never thought about the big cargo, cruise and container ships running their massive diesel engines while docked but they have to in order to keep the lights on. It’s estimated that one large container ship annually outputs the emissions equal to 50 million cars because they run on low-grade diesel, bunker fuel. While in port, closer to cities, it’s estimated that idling cargo ship emissions produce the pollution equivalent of 12,000 cars. Getting that number to zero is good goal.

So thank you Emerald Ace for being a treehugging, hippy-dippy cargo ship that will hopefully become the norm in the shipping industry. Running off batteries during the berthing process and while docked is a start and I hope you get a big bumper sticker proclaiming “I Produce Zero-Emissions (while in port) that’ll make you the envy of other cargo ships. Every bit counts. [Gizmodo]


Retractable Sails On Transoceanic Vessels Could Reduce Their Fuel Consumption By Up To 30%

The Wind Challenger Project’s goal of building ocean going vessels with retractable sails seems like a legit idea. It’s a joint-project between the University of Tokyo, ship-builders and selected shipping lines. In their simulations, vessels employing the retractable sail technology were able to reduce their fuel consumption by 30% and determine a foreseeable payback in 5-10 years.

The 50m x 20m sails will be made out of aluminum and fiber-reinforced plastic and cost approximately $2.5 million each. Rather than taking the shortest course, ships employing the retractable sail can plan their route based on ideal wind conditions. In port, the retractable sail can collapse to 1/5 its deployed size. No mention if this cost saving technology can be added to existing vessels. [Diginfo]