Robots That Ride Waves for Science and Understanding

New surfboard sized robots are riding the waves and doing science! They’re autonomous robots called Wave Gliders and they are being used to monitor shipping and more importantly they are tracking information on the oceans that have traditionally been too costly to gather.

Researchers are warming up to the technology too. NOAA is testing a Wave Glider named Alex in the ocean north of Puerto Rico this fall, hoping to gather crucial hurricane data to improve forecasting. Meanwhile, the Ocean Tracking Network is using gliders to track fish—a difficult task. Unlike aquatic animals that breathe, fish don’t surface often (maybe never) to ping tracking satellites.

Read more here.

SkySails Signs a Deal

In 2007 we looked at SkySails when they were still in the startup phase of their company and today they have signed a large deal with Cargill, a large shipping company. Cargill will use SkySails starting later this year to save up to 30% of their fuel costs.

SkySails are a sails that attach to the front of the boat to help tow a boat along in open seas. The use of a rather large sail helps lower transportation costs while lowering the shipping industry’s impact on the environment.

Plans are in place next December to install one of these giant kites on a handysize vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes, which the company has on long-term charter, making it the largest vessel propelled by a kite in the world. It is hoped to have this system fully operational in the first quarter of 2012.

G.J. van den Akker, head of Cargill’s ocean transportation business, said that “the shipping industry currently supports 90 percent of the world’s international physical trade. In a world of finite resources, environmental stewardship makes good business sense.” A recent United Nations study cited by Cargill says that up to 100 million tons of carbon dioxide could be saved every year by the broad application of the SkySails’ technology on the world merchant fleet.

Read some more here.

Plastiki Completes its Voyage

We looked at the Plastiki before when it set sail and now, a few months later the ship has completed its voyage.

The boat, carrying six crew, travelled through a waste-strewn area of the north Pacific and made stops in the Line Islands, Western Samoa and the French territory of New Caledonia before leaving for Australia.

The Plastiki’s bottles are lashed to pontoons and held together with recyclable plastic and glue made from cashew nut husks and sugarcane, while its sails are also made from recycled plastic.

The crew relied on renewable energy including solar panels, wind and propeller turbines and bicycle-powered electricity generators, and used water recycled from urine.

They were able to keep in touch with supporters via satellite through a website, blogs, and use of social-networking sites such as Twitter.

Keep reading about the Plastiki’s adventure

Plastic Boat Sets Sail to Plastic Patch

The Plastiki is a plastic boat that has set sail to raise awareness of the all the pollution from plastics that’s sitting in our oceans and it looks like they are off on an exciting trip!

The purpose, said expedition leader David de Rothschild, is to draw attention to the health of the oceans and to demonstrate the value of recycled plastic bottles. De Rothschild and his crew of five hope to sail to Australia, a voyage of about 11,000 nautical miles.

The Plastiki, named in honor of Norwegian explorer Thor Hyderdahl’s raft Kon Tiki, is a boat like no other in the world. Besides the hull of recycled plastic water and soda bottles, the vessel is made of a hardened plastic called PET.

The boat is a twin-hulled catamaran rigged as a ketch. It will rely on the wind for propulsion and has only a small auxiliary engine. No such boat has ever made an ocean passage before.

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You can take the Plastiki Pledge.

Hydrogen Challenger: Sustainable Energy on the High Seas

The Hydrogen Challenger is a tanker ship that has gone from 20th century ideas to storing 21st century hydrogen energy.

Hydrogen Challenger

From Wikipedia:
Hydrogen Challenger is a 66 meter (216′ 6″) refitted coastal tanker for mobile hydrogen production, it is fitted with a vertical axis wind turbine that generates electricity for the electrolysis of water to fill the hydrogen storage tanks. The total storage and transportation capacity is 1,194 m³ (42,000 ft3), it is stationed in the German Bight or near Helgoland (where the most wind is) and docks in Bremerhaven where the produced hydrogen is delivered to the market.

Read some more at the Power Generation here.

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