Tuesday, January 22, 2008

German 'green' ingenuity

Today, the 462 foot cargo ship MS Beluga left the port city of Bremen on its way to Venezuela. After it arrived in the open sea, it unwound a giant sky sail (a kite, really) measuring 462 square meters from its bow that can fly 600 feet above the vessel and power the ship.

If the experiment works, the ship will cut its carbon emissions by 20% for the entire voyage. It should be noted that there are about 100,000 ships carrying 95% of the world's cargo from country to country and the cargo companies use the dirtiest fuel (diesel)to power their fleets.

The kite device is the brain child of 34-year-old Stephan Wrage and the experiment has been financed in large part by the German government. Computers manage the mechanics of flying the kite. Reduction of greenhouse gases and saving our planet is the catalyst energizing the trial.

The cargo industry is very conservative (with a small 'c', probably a large one too) but they are watching with interest. Already orders for the kite are coming in. If it works, a giant kite measuring 5000 sq meters will be devised for the huge tankers and emissions could be reduced by 30 or 40%

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