German engineers have devised a way of tugging merchant vessels along with huge, computer steered kites, known as Skysails, that catch the ocean winds. It marks the beginning of a revolution in the way that ships are powered. The sails are calculated to be able to reduce fuel consumption by 30-50 per cent,depending on the wind conditions. The system could be applied to about 60000 vessels out of the 100000 listed in the Lloyd's register.
Orders are already coming in ranging from trawlers to a super-yacht. If the world fleet is equipped with sails, it is calculated that 142 million tones of CO2 could be saved per year!
The sails, made of an ultralight synthetic fibre,are shot up as much as 300m into the sky. They are linked to the ship by a single cordand and are steered by an automatic pilot. Acomputer console on the bridge feeds in data on wind strength and direction. A track running around the ship allows the kites to move and scoop up the wind from every direction.
It seems to be a good start to reduce CO2 emissions, since merchant ships produce more sulphur dioxide than all the cars and lorries on the planet. They also generate about 27% of the world's nitrogen oxide emissions. If this new method is improved within a short period of time, humanity will be one step closer to saving the world...
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