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Slowly but surely
August 27, 2013 6:19 AM   Subscribe

It seems eco-friendly cargo ships are slowly on the rise. Today i learned there is a full length documentary on Vimeo about one of these sailing vessels, the Tres Hombres; a bittersweet account of a voyage to transport supplies and aid to Haiti after the devastating earthquake: How Captain Longhair saved the World (HD, 42 min.).
posted by Substrata (9 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow awesome. The first link made me really happy, then I heard "25 tons of cargo" and realized how impractical it would be since that is almost exactly the max-weight of a normal size shipping container. 1 sailing ship = 1 shipping container. So no return to the glory days of 19th century sail except for boutique niche operations. But the new tech cargo ships with "sails" look interesting.

And, cargo ships in total emit as much CO2 as Japan, the world's 6th most polluting nation, amazing.

There's also the The Vermont Sail Freight Project, using wind powered barges to move freight along rivers. Similar projects in Europe already in operation.
posted by stbalbach at 7:07 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What we'd really like to see is nuclear-powered cargo ships. You could run one of those couple-hundred-thousand-ton container ships off a decent sized nuclear power plant, and only refuel it every other year.

For the time being that's not going to happen because everything known about how to make big nuclear-powered ships is classified.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:24 AM on August 27, 2013


What we'd really like to see is nuclear-powered cargo ships.

So instead of scrubbing oil off seabirds we have to encase them in lead-lined containers and bury them? No thanks.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The US and Soviet Union (and GBR and France) have operated hundreds of nuclear-powered ships over the last 60 years with no such catastrophe.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Using sail at opportune times was a thing I mentioned sometime in oh 1966 to a scientist who visited my school, that and reclaiming useful matierials from garbage. My mother thought it was nuts because 'technology never goes backward in any way.' Well she was wrong about that one..
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:49 PM on August 27, 2013


60 years with no such catastrophe

There are a lot of problems with this logic.
posted by stbalbach at 6:34 PM on August 27, 2013


I wonder whether there'd be a market for small, robotic, solar-powered cargo vessels that would go point-to-point by satellite and GPS direction. Speed wouldn't be as important, because you'd have no crew costs, and without a crew you can basically make the whole thing one watertight pod.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:16 PM on August 27, 2013


everything known about how to make big nuclear-powered ships is classified

I doubt that. In addition to icebreakers, which are only marginally militarily useful, there have been four civilian cargo ships commissioned with nuclear propulsion, by the US, Germany, Japan, and the USSR/Russia, but for the most part they haven't been economically viable. The NS Savannah, for example, cost $2M more annually than comparable vessels using conventional propulsion, though note that was 1960s fuel costs.
posted by dhartung at 3:42 AM on August 28, 2013


The US and Soviet Union (and GBR and France) have operated hundreds of nuclear-powered ships over the last 60 years with no such catastrophe.

A quick scan of this list shows at least 10 incidents where nuclear-power subs have either sunk or accidentally released radioactive materials.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:13 AM on August 28, 2013


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