New Sail Technology Saves Money and Reduces Emissions

In the early days of this site we posted about a company that was adding sails to giant freighters and how this hybrid approach would save money and fuel. The testing of the sails did show positive results, however the cost of operating them and the potential problems they caused didn’t outweigh the fuel savings. Today, another company has found a way to make modern sails using the same blade making technique as wind turbines. These new sails can fold in while in port or story seas and open easily on the open water to savings, plus the installation and maintenance is easier and cheaper. Within the first week of testing they concluded that these new sails are more efficient than they projected.

The new shipping technology has the potential to assist the industry in achieving environmental objectives by providing a retrofit solution capable of decarbonizing existing vessels. Currently, 55 percent of the world’s bulker carrier fleets are nine years of age.

Cargill stated he the performance of the WindWings will be closely monitored over the next few months and the company plans to further improve the design, operation, and performance.

The maritime commercial giants aim to use the Pyxis Ocean to encourage adopting new technology across the shipping industry.

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Battery Electric Freight Trains can Help Reduce Emissions

Trains are great for efficiently moving freight long distances and are used the world over. Many regions already have all electric rail systems, but in North America electric adoption hasn’t happened. Historically, this has been due to the installation and maintenance costs for the vast distances of overhead electric wires. Advances in battery technology hopes to change this.

An American company, Wabtec, built and tested their FLXdrive engine last year and found it worked rather well. The engine is built on the same platform as their Diesel engines but runs off of batteries more powerful than a Tesla’s and can regenerate energy with braking.

However, the environmental benefits of rail have been undermined by the heavy reliance upon diesel to fuel freight trains, as well as a widespread preference among businesses to move goods via trucks rather than trains. This is a problem globally beyond the U.S. — the International Energy Agency has said that freight rail is “often neglected” in climate debates and currently carries only seven per cent of all freight moved around the world.

A greater tonnage of goods is now moved by trucks on roads than by rail, however, and the rail industry hopes action on the climate crisis will prove advantageous to its own prospects. “If we decarbonize all of the locomotives and decrease the number of trucks, we will get to where we need to be,” said Gebhardt. Medium and heavy-duty trucks are responsible for about a quarter of all U.S. emissions from transportation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than double the pollution emitted by aircraft.

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Bicycles are the New Trucks


Trucks are loud, big, and clog the roads. Bicycles are quiet, small, and only need a fraction of the space larger vehicles need. Moving freight around a city is tough because of the traffic, so how about using bicycles to transport freight?

Bicycles are often thought as only a recreational or commuter transportation solution, but more and more people are looking into using bicycles to move freight. This already happens in large cities to deliver food and small packages, so why not use bikes to move larger goods?

This isn’t a new concept. Not so many years ago, delivery by bike was routine across Britain and remains so in many other less industrialised nations.

Newer bike-based cargo and courier firms have been around for a while but advances in e-bike technology are increasing the loads that such machines can carry and also the ease of use, particularly in hilly places.

Sleek, whirring machines are increasingly visible, even in places like the UK, where the delivery giant DHL is using them. Elsewhere, the ambitions are greater, as with Gothenburg’s “armadillo”, an articulated bike-and-trailer system that transports deliveries to city centre shops and businesses.

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A Fossil Fuel Free Freighter

Cargo ships make the global economy work as goods need to be transported around the globe. These large ships have a large impact on the environment due to their fuel consumption and regulations around the ships can be lax.

While the global maritime industry is responsible for three percent of global emissions, it is yet to be subjected to global emissions agreements. With emission levels set to mushroom as more goods are freighted across the oceans, unstable and spiking oil prices also make for an increasingly unpredictable future for worldwide shipping trade.

If we want (and we should) a carbon neutral economy then we need to address this goods transportation issue, and companies are looking into this already. We’ve looked at the issue of cargo ships before and how a giant sail can help lower fuel costs and emissions.

With that in mind, a company, B9, has set out to create a ship that would work without fossil fuels.

“The design process is evolutionary,” Gilpin enthuses. “We’re combining proven technologies to develop a ‘future proof’ technically and commercially viable small (3,000 dwt) merchant dry bulk vessel.”

This holistic design process combines technology transferred from offshore yacht racing with the most advanced commercial naval architecture available, as well as incorporating fuel derived from food waste, thanks to B9S’s sister company B9 Organic Energy.

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Freight Containers as Student Housing

Tempohousing uses shipping containers to create housing and other buildings for places that can use it. Simple, modular, mobile, and funky.

In 2002, the city of Amsterdam had a very urgent need for student housing and was looking for new and original ideas to quickly solve the problem. Only temporary building sites were available (as in any city, land was scarce), so the solution had to be mobile, affordable and had to have a quick set up time. Traditional construction was not going to work: too expensive, not mobile, and too slow. Tempohousing (at the time also known as “Keetwonen”) was the only company who could offer solutions with the budgets and timeframes. But to live in what looks like a shipping container was completely new in Holland, so many hearts still had to be won.

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