Carbon Emissions emma-maersk

Published on June 3rd, 2009 | by Christopher DeMorro

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One Container Ship Pollutes As Much As 50 Million Cars

Much ado and attention has been paid to the pollutants emmitted from the tail pipes of cars and trucks in recent years, both here in the U.S. and across the pond in Europe. With an estimated 250 million passenger vehicles in the U.S. alone, it would seem that cars would be a major contributor to pollution and air quality issues here and abroad. But newly released data from Europe suggests that a single container ship may cause as much pollution as 50 million cars and release as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur oxide into the air annually, contributing heavily to global warming. And there are 90,000 such ships of varying sizes across the world at any one time.

This has raised the ire of many an environmentalists both in Europe, which has many of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and the U.S., where the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as 60,000 deaths a year can be attributed to coastal pollution from container ships. The Emma Maersk, the longest operating cargo ship in the world, is about 1,300 feet from bow to stern and can carry as many as 11,000 twenty-foot metal shipping containers. All that baggage requires a massive 14 cylinder, 109,000 horsepower diesel motor that consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy oil fuel an hour even at its most efficient setting. These motors are among the most efficient in the world too, with a thermal efficiency rating around 50%, where the average car or airplane motor has thermal efficiency of just 25-30% at best.

It isn’t so much the motors that are causing the pollution as it is the heavy oil fuel, the lowest quality fuel available, which makes shipping across the ocean both cost-efficient and damaging to the environment. These ships operate 24 hours a day, 280 days a year, essentially becoming floating pollution factories that are absolutely necessary to the world economy. But unlike cars, you can’t demand smaller ships or more efficient engines since they already return half the energy in the fuel back into propelling power. My solution; bring back sails. Big sails.

With boats the length of a quarter-mile drag strip there is room enough for dozens of sails placed from bow to stern to catch the wind and assist in moving these leviathans. Maybe. I’m no engineer, but humanity had circumnavigated the world long before steam engines by just using the power of the wind. Whats more, the Maersk burns a gallon of fuel every 28 feet, which makes the Hummer look like a moped in terms of fuel consumption.

Even if the sails were just used to get the ships away from port, that would represent a major reduction in pollution since 70% of ship emissions are within 400km of land and fuel consumption. The average trans-Atlantic trip can consume as much as 200,000 gallons of heavy oil fuel. The EPA has plans of creating a “buffer zone” near land for low-emissions shipping by reducing the sulfur in fuel by 98% (the average car emits about 101 grams of sulfur annually compared to the 5,000 tons of a large container ship). The European Union has proposed two such emissions restricted shipping lanes too, but with less stringent regulations than the proposed U.S. zones.

Hey, we already have pirates, why not bring back galleons and side-paddlers too while we are at it?

Source: The Guardian




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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • John

    Isn’t there any kind of biodiesel that could be used by these ships?

    What happens when all that particular matter enters the ocean? Is it acidic…does it contribute to ocean acidification?

    • Joel

      My idea is for a global government. ;-) Military spending would drop, military personnel could be reallocated (Let’s not fire them!) to managing the shipments of giant nuclear container ships. :-) Win-win. After all, the big American military ships are all nuclear. Why not? Ok. That was only my first idea.
      Biofuels are very bad for pollution. Also, doesn’t sulfur oxide produce global cooling, like the volcanoes and factories? I think it does but it produces acid rain too which is a danger to the ocean life.

  • John

    Isn’t there any kind of biodiesel that could be used by these ships?

    What happens when all that particular matter enters the ocean? Is it acidic…does it contribute to ocean acidification?

  • russ

    Christopher you are right – you are no engineer!

    It seems that diesel engines and boilers using heavy oil are getting confused in the article. I don’t think anyone will ever figure out a way to use heavy oil in a diesel. Two different generations of ships.

    Much of the heavy oil used is quite high in sulfur plus heavy metals – it could be taken out in the refineries but that would be costly and won’t be done without pressure from governments.

  • russ

    Christopher you are right – you are no engineer!

    It seems that diesel engines and boilers using heavy oil are getting confused in the article. I don’t think anyone will ever figure out a way to use heavy oil in a diesel. Two different generations of ships.

    Much of the heavy oil used is quite high in sulfur plus heavy metals – it could be taken out in the refineries but that would be costly and won’t be done without pressure from governments.

  • Tim Cleland

    Assuming for a moment that anthropogenic global warming due to CO2 emissions is real (and there is no proof of that yet), this is another reason why it’s useless to try to reduce CO2 emissions. We should simply assume the warming is going to happen, use the time we have to generate as much wealth and, therefore, technology as we can to enable future generations to try to deal with the rising oceans and warmer temperatures.

  • Tim Cleland

    Assuming for a moment that anthropogenic global warming due to CO2 emissions is real (and there is no proof of that yet), this is another reason why it’s useless to try to reduce CO2 emissions. We should simply assume the warming is going to happen, use the time we have to generate as much wealth and, therefore, technology as we can to enable future generations to try to deal with the rising oceans and warmer temperatures.

  • EcoGeek

    I always thought there were 365 days in a year…where do the extra 15 days come from?

    The only logical solution is to go nuclear.

  • EcoGeek

    I always thought there were 365 days in a year…where do the extra 15 days come from?

    The only logical solution is to go nuclear.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    Russ:

    Boats like the Emma Maersk sometimes use more than one type of engine, but this is the website where I found a good chunk of info on the engines in these container ships…look at the size of those pistons!

    http://people.bath.ac.uk/ccsshb/12cyl/

  • Christopher DeMorro

    And I said 280 days, not 380 days, these ships need downtime for service and such, but they are still running a lot more than any vehicle I can think of off the top of my head.

  • russ

    Hi Christopher,

    An interesting and immense engine. I have never seen an engine so immense! Older styles and boilers are far nastier for pollution than the Wartsila seems to be.

    The Wartsila site: http://www.wartsila.com/Wartsila/global/docs/en/ship_power/media_publications/brochures/product/engines/low_speed/wartsila-RTA96C-engine-technology-review.pdf

    provides a lot of information. Wartsila uses what I know as fuel oil rather than heavy oil. (to the best of my knowledge) Heavy oil is a mixture of refinery bottoms plus either diesel or kerosene. That is some rather nasty stuff.

  • russ

    Hi Christopher,

    An interesting and immense engine. I have never seen an engine so immense! Older styles and boilers are far nastier for pollution than the Wartsila seems to be.

    The Wartsila site: http://www.wartsila.com/Wartsila/global/docs/en/ship_power/media_publications/brochures/product/engines/low_speed/wartsila-RTA96C-engine-technology-review.pdf

    provides a lot of information. Wartsila uses what I know as fuel oil rather than heavy oil. (to the best of my knowledge) Heavy oil is a mixture of refinery bottoms plus either diesel or kerosene. That is some rather nasty stuff.

  • EcoGeek

    My bad. I’m not an engineer (or a mathematician) either.

    Either way, this news is a big bombshell to the environmental movement. It truly belittles anything a responsible environmentalist is trying to do.

  • EcoGeek

    My bad. I’m not an engineer (or a mathematician) either.

    Either way, this news is a big bombshell to the environmental movement. It truly belittles anything a responsible environmentalist is trying to do.

  • MichaelBryant

    I think a combine cycle engine design can increase efficiency of the engine by 25%.

  • MichaelBryant

    I think a combine cycle engine design can increase efficiency of the engine by 25%.

  • John

    I guess they could go nuke… of course then piracy would become a much bigger issue, and so I guess you’d need a couple of destroyers escorting each one, which would probably defeat the purpose.

  • John

    I guess they could go nuke… of course then piracy would become a much bigger issue, and so I guess you’d need a couple of destroyers escorting each one, which would probably defeat the purpose.

  • CRM

    Let’s see the math on these sails, lol. You know that you need tens of thousands of HP worth of sails to even move the thing, right?

    C

  • CRM

    Let’s see the math on these sails, lol. You know that you need tens of thousands of HP worth of sails to even move the thing, right?

    C

  • http://www.acclimateus.com Carol Schmitt

    Like the rest of the world, the solution isn’t one thing (wind), it’s probably a mix of things. Solar. Hydrogen Fuel Cells. More efficient lighting and internal components. Biofuels. Wave energy. The last would be very interesting if there was an efficient way to leverage flowing by the ships hull as it was pushed forward by wind or solar.

    Also if the most power is used at point of “landing,” then maybe the problem is not the ships but the process for getting in and out of port. Small, low emitting tugs or creative docking automation may also help.

    Finally, big ships may want to take a leaf from Water Standard’s (http://www.waterstandard.com) book and clean some water while they’re trawling through it.

  • http://www.acclimateus.com Carol Schmitt

    Like the rest of the world, the solution isn’t one thing (wind), it’s probably a mix of things. Solar. Hydrogen Fuel Cells. More efficient lighting and internal components. Biofuels. Wave energy. The last would be very interesting if there was an efficient way to leverage flowing by the ships hull as it was pushed forward by wind or solar.

    Also if the most power is used at point of “landing,” then maybe the problem is not the ships but the process for getting in and out of port. Small, low emitting tugs or creative docking automation may also help.

    Finally, big ships may want to take a leaf from Water Standard’s (http://www.waterstandard.com) book and clean some water while they’re trawling through it.

  • Allgonquin

    Some comments to the comments, from one who knows. Can biodiesel be used? Sure, but it costs far more than the fuel these ships use, which means they will not use it for economic reasons. By the way, particulates have nothing acidic about them.

    Regarding heavy fuel, these ships DO use heavy fuel. Also referred to as HFO, bunker fuel, No. 6 oil, etc. Ships and land based plants have been using this type fuel for more than 30 years. It is not just boilers which use this fuel. Russ is basically correct.

    Regarding more than one type of engine on the Emma Maersk, ships like this use the large slow speed diesel for propulsion. The other engines on board are for power generation to provide power for refrigerated containers, as well as the crew’s and ship’s need for power, which is relatively small.

    Regarding a combined cycle, Emma does in fact have this already. But one can not obtain 25% additional power from a CC. The additional power obtained from recovering exhaust heat is on the order of 6-7% of the shaft output of the engine itself. Emma uses heat recovery boilers on the main engine as well as the generator set engines to recover additional power over what the main engine alone can produce from waste heat.

    Regarding feet per gallon, well, it’s more like 50 feet per gallon, however there are many variables involved, but trust me, I’m in the business and I know these things. It’s not 28 feet.

    The author makes good points in the second and third paragraph. If one looks at the cost or pollution per ton-mile of freight ships like this are still one of the most cost effective and least polluting methods of transport. Shipping companies will use better (i.e. less polluting, but more expensive) fuel as long as everyone is required to do so and they are not at a competitive disadvantage to do so, and the public is willing to pay the additional transport cost due to more expensive fuel.

  • Allgonquin

    Some comments to the comments, from one who knows. Can biodiesel be used? Sure, but it costs far more than the fuel these ships use, which means they will not use it for economic reasons. By the way, particulates have nothing acidic about them.

    Regarding heavy fuel, these ships DO use heavy fuel. Also referred to as HFO, bunker fuel, No. 6 oil, etc. Ships and land based plants have been using this type fuel for more than 30 years. It is not just boilers which use this fuel. Russ is basically correct.

    Regarding more than one type of engine on the Emma Maersk, ships like this use the large slow speed diesel for propulsion. The other engines on board are for power generation to provide power for refrigerated containers, as well as the crew’s and ship’s need for power, which is relatively small.

    Regarding a combined cycle, Emma does in fact have this already. But one can not obtain 25% additional power from a CC. The additional power obtained from recovering exhaust heat is on the order of 6-7% of the shaft output of the engine itself. Emma uses heat recovery boilers on the main engine as well as the generator set engines to recover additional power over what the main engine alone can produce from waste heat.

    Regarding feet per gallon, well, it’s more like 50 feet per gallon, however there are many variables involved, but trust me, I’m in the business and I know these things. It’s not 28 feet.

    The author makes good points in the second and third paragraph. If one looks at the cost or pollution per ton-mile of freight ships like this are still one of the most cost effective and least polluting methods of transport. Shipping companies will use better (i.e. less polluting, but more expensive) fuel as long as everyone is required to do so and they are not at a competitive disadvantage to do so, and the public is willing to pay the additional transport cost due to more expensive fuel.

  • Tim Cleland

    Thanks, Allgonquin. That was a very informative post. It’s always nice to have a subject matter expert on hand.

  • Tim Cleland

    Thanks, Allgonquin. That was a very informative post. It’s always nice to have a subject matter expert on hand.

  • Jay Tee

    I really have a hard time believing a single ship pollutes as much as 50 million cars. I call B.S. on this article for now.

    If it were true, then environmental authorities would be INCREDIBLY remiss in not controlling this pollution source. But for now, I really doubt the 50 million figure.

    Probably more like 5000.

  • Jay Tee

    I really have a hard time believing a single ship pollutes as much as 50 million cars. I call B.S. on this article for now.

    If it were true, then environmental authorities would be INCREDIBLY remiss in not controlling this pollution source. But for now, I really doubt the 50 million figure.

    Probably more like 5000.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    Well Jay, I only have the Guardian article to go on, but if the article is to be believed than the math would work out like this (I think, feel free to double check).

    But the 50 million number probably comes from the point that an average car releases around 100 grams of sulfur oxide into the air annually (driving something like 12,000 miles) whereas a large container ship may dump upwards of 5,000 tons. I’m not even going to attempt the math, but its a big, big number.

    And Allgonquin is most certainly right about the math regarding feet/gallon. I re-checked my math and came out with 45-46 feet per gallon, my bad. But I appreciate some insider knowledge too. And I still want giant sails…or maybe oars…

  • Micskill

    I had no idea… Great article.

  • Micskill

    I had no idea… Great article.

  • https://twitter.com/logisticsnews Matt

    its a very interesting debate, but the question really is what is the pollution per tonne of freight moved in a ship compared to other methods of moving freight? https://twitter.com/logisticsnews They may be the largest single polluter but when you break it down they are probably quiet efficient.

  • https://twitter.com/logisticsnews Matt

    its a very interesting debate, but the question really is what is the pollution per tonne of freight moved in a ship compared to other methods of moving freight? https://twitter.com/logisticsnews They may be the largest single polluter but when you break it down they are probably quiet efficient.

  • Marty

    I find it strange that the pollutant sulfur dioxide is used to compare ships to cars. Gasoline has very little sulfur content and, in Europe the diesel used is ultra low sulfur. There must be a better way to compare the two — fuel consumption per ton-mile.

    As far as sails for this ships, check out skysails –http://www.skysails.info/. Basically a computer controlled kite for a ship. I have heard they are getting great results.

    Nuclear power for merchant ships was attempted in the 60-70’s, the N/S Savannah. If the US had been able to pull it off, we would be dominating shipping today. The problem was that many countries were leery of nuclear technology and wouldn’t let the ship into any of their ports.

  • Marty

    I find it strange that the pollutant sulfur dioxide is used to compare ships to cars. Gasoline has very little sulfur content and, in Europe the diesel used is ultra low sulfur. There must be a better way to compare the two — fuel consumption per ton-mile.

    As far as sails for this ships, check out skysails –http://www.skysails.info/. Basically a computer controlled kite for a ship. I have heard they are getting great results.

    Nuclear power for merchant ships was attempted in the 60-70’s, the N/S Savannah. If the US had been able to pull it off, we would be dominating shipping today. The problem was that many countries were leery of nuclear technology and wouldn’t let the ship into any of their ports.

  • Rif

    @Christopher DeMorro

    Sky sails for modern ships

    http://www.skysails.info/index.php?id=472&L=2

    Works to reduce fuel consumption, not to replace engines.

  • Rif

    @Christopher DeMorro

    Sky sails for modern ships

    http://www.skysails.info/index.php?id=472&L=2

    Works to reduce fuel consumption, not to replace engines.

  • Allgonquin

    I did the math on the annual SOx numbers. It could in fact be 5000 TPY for a ship like that. The reason for such a high amount is not due inherently to the ship or the engine itself. It is the fuel, period. The fuel these ships use is typically between 2-3% sulfur by mass. That mass passes through the engine while being burned as fuel. All the sulfur which is used in the engine oxidizes to SOx, which weighs roughly double of what pure sulfur weighs. What goes in an engine goes out.

    Contrast the heavy fuel which is 2-3% sulfur with “ULSD” fuel, ultra low sulfur diesel, which is 15 ppm of sulfur. The level of sulfur in heavy fuel is about 2-3000 times higher than ULSD fuel. If you ran ULSD in the Emma, she would only emit about 2-3 tons per year.

  • Allgonquin

    I did the math on the annual SOx numbers. It could in fact be 5000 TPY for a ship like that. The reason for such a high amount is not due inherently to the ship or the engine itself. It is the fuel, period. The fuel these ships use is typically between 2-3% sulfur by mass. That mass passes through the engine while being burned as fuel. All the sulfur which is used in the engine oxidizes to SOx, which weighs roughly double of what pure sulfur weighs. What goes in an engine goes out.

    Contrast the heavy fuel which is 2-3% sulfur with “ULSD” fuel, ultra low sulfur diesel, which is 15 ppm of sulfur. The level of sulfur in heavy fuel is about 2-3000 times higher than ULSD fuel. If you ran ULSD in the Emma, she would only emit about 2-3 tons per year.

  • http://jean.posterous.com Jean Vincent

    This problem should be fixed by regulating toxic (not just CO2) emissions for ships. If that means higher cost of intercontinental transportation so be it. It would make local production, which is (usually) environmentally preferable, more attractive.

    Sails are also a very good idea and could provide more than 50% of the energy required for ships in the future.

  • http://jean.posterous.com Jean Vincent

    This problem should be fixed by regulating toxic (not just CO2) emissions for ships. If that means higher cost of intercontinental transportation so be it. It would make local production, which is (usually) environmentally preferable, more attractive.

    Sails are also a very good idea and could provide more than 50% of the energy required for ships in the future.

  • Patrick

    Wow, this is a mind blowing article… Thank you very very much!

  • Patrick

    Wow, this is a mind blowing article… Thank you very very much!

  • David

    Check out SkySails at http://www.skysails.info/english/ so economics & capitalism can be good for the environment. Who would’ve thought?

  • David

    Check out SkySails at http://www.skysails.info/english/ so economics & capitalism can be good for the environment. Who would’ve thought?

  • David

    Jean Vincent…who will police the international shipping companies? My experience is when business or people are forced to increase their costs some will break the rules. Examples are moonshine, illicit drugs, tobacco, gun running, etc. When unleaded gasoline 1st began to be marketed, it was more expensive than the leaded gasoline. Some modified their cars so they could use the larger nozzle & buy leaded gasoline.

  • David

    Jean Vincent…who will police the international shipping companies? My experience is when business or people are forced to increase their costs some will break the rules. Examples are moonshine, illicit drugs, tobacco, gun running, etc. When unleaded gasoline 1st began to be marketed, it was more expensive than the leaded gasoline. Some modified their cars so they could use the larger nozzle & buy leaded gasoline.

  • S.J.Carr

    Easy solution is to burn NH3 Annhydrous Ammonia in ships and turbines used for power production. Net result is O,Zero carbon emmissions. When the world is serious about cleaning things up Ocean Thermal Technology can produce NH3 and fresh water. Put that in your exhaust pipe!!!

  • S.J.Carr

    Easy solution is to burn NH3 Annhydrous Ammonia in ships and turbines used for power production. Net result is O,Zero carbon emmissions. When the world is serious about cleaning things up Ocean Thermal Technology can produce NH3 and fresh water. Put that in your exhaust pipe!!!

  • Royce R. Vines

    How on Earth is the Carbon element (No6) ever considered a pollutant. The Carbon molecule is the basis of nearly all life on Earth, are all living things a pollutant?

    A pollutant is defined as “waste matter that contaminates air or water”. Contaminate means to “make impure”.

    CO2, commonly and erroneously referred to as “Carbon”, is, and always has been, a part of the Earth’s atmosphere, is NOT a pollutant.

    In fact, without CO2, all life as we know it dies, full stop. Pollutants are not necessary for life!

    For most of the Earth’s existence, CO2 levels have been much higher than than the 0.045% that we are approaching now.

    Besides, CO2 level increases actually “follow” a warming event by 60 to 1000 years, it doesn’t cause warming.

    Even the IPCC data was altered from the scientific data to something more politically suitable. Some of the original scientists have released this fact.

    I suggest everyone do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

    Royce

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken

  • Royce R. Vines

    How on Earth is the Carbon element (No6) ever considered a pollutant. The Carbon molecule is the basis of nearly all life on Earth, are all living things a pollutant?

    A pollutant is defined as “waste matter that contaminates air or water”. Contaminate means to “make impure”.

    CO2, commonly and erroneously referred to as “Carbon”, is, and always has been, a part of the Earth’s atmosphere, is NOT a pollutant.

    In fact, without CO2, all life as we know it dies, full stop. Pollutants are not necessary for life!

    For most of the Earth’s existence, CO2 levels have been much higher than than the 0.045% that we are approaching now.

    Besides, CO2 level increases actually “follow” a warming event by 60 to 1000 years, it doesn’t cause warming.

    Even the IPCC data was altered from the scientific data to something more politically suitable. Some of the original scientists have released this fact.

    I suggest everyone do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

    Royce

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken

    • http://gas2.org/2009/06/03/one-container-ship-pollutes-as-much-as-50-million-cars/ Glenn Murphy

      Just wondering you believe in God. Beause when the made earth there were no vehicles or fossil fuels or other pollutants. Wether you believe in God or not. Humans have generated an excess of contaminants/pollutans that increase the ambient temperature based on scientific reports. The increased usage of fossil fuels will increase the rate of global warming, though slowly and none significant in our dailey routines but we do have tempurate regions. The incremental increase in temperature wether it be in 1 to 10 years has a substantial and definite effect on these regains and the flora, fauna and wild species in those regions. These fluctuations lead to the increase of exotic invasive species to render our indigenous species helpless. Our way of life will not be effected day to day, but generational affects will occur. Generally, everyone has a family or friends with family that enjoys there day to day life. We really need to stand back an realize that even though there are cost’s to using BIOFUELS they are not as substantial as the pertoleum and natural gas consortium advertises. Everyone needs to realize why pertoleum prices are sky rocketing because different technologies that utilize above ground resourses such as renewable resourcses can supply a lasting and reliable energy source. This has got the petroleum groups making all the monetary gains they can to reduce any chance of increase in that sector, but if people will keep on pushing we will find that there is a reason why they are called renewable and not fossil. Because they can become new again. People need to research how long of a period it takes to generate fossil fuels and how long it takes for most fossil fuels to degenerate on earth. Number one question do you know what petroleum number one product is? PLASTIC!

  • MeMySelfandYou

    How about this for a thought,touching on the caring and responsible amongst us all,

    Government the world over are now concirned about being green or at least that’s the things we are all constantly talking about.

    If we cared so much about how much oil was left and how we get from A to B, it wouldn’t make any difference what the said vehicle looked like, as long as we didn’t have to walk any where or carry, this is what a vehicle is used for, is it not.

    we either care or we don’t its as simple as that, if we are running out of oil, then we must act now, not when the world is so full of beautiful vehicles that we cannot drive, because there is no oil left.

    Every government could say right, all new cars would have to be made to do a 100 miles to a gallon with a top speed of 65 miles per hour, the technology is available to do this right now, so why not do it today.

    All cars could be made to a good standard throughout so we don’t have to spend huge amounts of fuel tranposrting them half way round the world, all parts would be fully interchangable and set a fixed price wherever you go in the world.

    It would create the biggest labour market we have ever seen, it would be fair for all future generations and the enviornment as a whole,

    Take away the road fund licence, and tax the fuel only, then those who don’t want to drive, won’t have to pay, this is the fairest for everybody and the enviornment, could we all work together for the good of everyone else.

  • MeMySelfandYou

    How about this for a thought,touching on the caring and responsible amongst us all,

    Government the world over are now concirned about being green or at least that’s the things we are all constantly talking about.

    If we cared so much about how much oil was left and how we get from A to B, it wouldn’t make any difference what the said vehicle looked like, as long as we didn’t have to walk any where or carry, this is what a vehicle is used for, is it not.

    we either care or we don’t its as simple as that, if we are running out of oil, then we must act now, not when the world is so full of beautiful vehicles that we cannot drive, because there is no oil left.

    Every government could say right, all new cars would have to be made to do a 100 miles to a gallon with a top speed of 65 miles per hour, the technology is available to do this right now, so why not do it today.

    All cars could be made to a good standard throughout so we don’t have to spend huge amounts of fuel tranposrting them half way round the world, all parts would be fully interchangable and set a fixed price wherever you go in the world.

    It would create the biggest labour market we have ever seen, it would be fair for all future generations and the enviornment as a whole,

    Take away the road fund licence, and tax the fuel only, then those who don’t want to drive, won’t have to pay, this is the fairest for everybody and the enviornment, could we all work together for the good of everyone else.

  • LH Boyd

    The author should have checked his facts. According to a report published in August 2005 by the US Maritime Administration, “Containership Market Indicators”, the world containership fleet stood at 3,375 vessels with a capacity of 7.7 million TEU. The report also stated that there were another 950 containerships on order at that time through 2007 with an additional capacity of 3.6 million TEU. Another source, Clarksons has published data showing the net container fleet slot capacity at year end 2007 at 10.78 million TEU. That’s a long way from 90,000 vessels quoted in the article. Given the level of hyperbole in describing size of the containership fleet, one must question the validity of his other statements and conclusions.

  • LH Boyd

    The author should have checked his facts. According to a report published in August 2005 by the US Maritime Administration, “Containership Market Indicators”, the world containership fleet stood at 3,375 vessels with a capacity of 7.7 million TEU. The report also stated that there were another 950 containerships on order at that time through 2007 with an additional capacity of 3.6 million TEU. Another source, Clarksons has published data showing the net container fleet slot capacity at year end 2007 at 10.78 million TEU. That’s a long way from 90,000 vessels quoted in the article. Given the level of hyperbole in describing size of the containership fleet, one must question the validity of his other statements and conclusions.

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  • C Chubb

    I know this is a late comment, but I just got back from vaca and wanted to comment.

    “Sails”? Again? Sure, you could cover it with sails. But the author kneecaps himself by reminding everyone that the vast majority of fuel is burned within sight of land, but that’s where sails are the most tricky and unreliable. Shipping companies don’t have time to wait around for anything, their docking slots are reserved to the minute the instant they pull out of the previous port.

    Sure, out in the ocean you could launch high kites and pull the ship along, but do you have any idea how heavy the cable would have to be to provide force to a ship like that? Even the hawsers tying one to the dock are more than a foot thick and weigh more than 10 lbs per linear foot, and that’s just to keep a stationary ship stationary against the tide.

    Sails work well on boats at a ratio of about 50-100 square feet of sail per English ton. So do a little calculations on how many square feet of sail you need to motivate 11,000 20 foot containers at 14 tonnes each. (Of course the average load per container usually works out closer to 8 tonnes each. Not everyone is shipping car batteries.) Plus the weight of the actual ship. I get 265 acres of sail just for the cargo.

    Still sound like an idea no one has thought of before?

  • http://twitter.com/HoderFF Mathieu Devos (@HoderFF)

    Assuming wind turbines here as a good measurement. Let’s start off with this 1 horsepower is 750W. 100.000HP ~ 75.000.000W = 75MW

    Since a wind turbine can deliver around 2-3MW in good conditions (I hope you’re already starting to see a problem here), assume you can get 2-3 wind turbines on that thing, you now have 10MW (using all rounding in your favor), that’s without the loss for your coupling, assuming you can even get that out and the fact that your ship wouldn’t even move due to the added mass.

    You are no engineer, that much is clear. Suggesting sails is stupid. Small nuclear thorium LFTR could be really good for this, those could easily provide 100MW, can be cooled with seawater or air, have no chance of meltdown, … And with just one ton of thorium they could finish out the entire year and still have some left.

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  • Eddie

    ++++++++++++++++++++ What caught my eye was the amount of fuel a ship needs to go from Point A to Point B. The article claims a ship burns 200,000 gallons per voyage. That is a lot of fuel, so I don’t think they would use bio-diesel from waste vegetable oil; just too expensive. Shipping companies want something cheap and readily available. What else is out there besides nuclear or a coal derivative. Solving this fuel replacement will have Maersk throwing tons of cash at your feet…

  • harvey swarztburger

    There is an answer and it’s very simple.
    Only buy American made products that are producted in the USA.
    Don’t buy any products that are transported from Asia or Europe.
    Stop supporting a system that is killing the planet and the American middle class.

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