Slippery ships float on thin air

时间:2019-03-02 14:03:00166网络整理admin

By Tim Thwaites YOSHIAKI KODAMA is weaving a magic carpet large enough to carry a ship. Conjured up from thin air at the flick of a switch, this slippery blanket will help transport a fully laden tanker or container ship across the ocean at higher speed, and using far less fuel, than ever before. Kodama is director of the Advanced Maritime Transport Technology Department at Japan’s National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI) in Tokyo. His work is just one of several major programmes under way in the US, Russia, Japan and Europe that focus on how to make ships more slippery. A craft that has less friction as it slides through the water will be far more efficient than standard ships. Slippery ships could travel across the sea much faster or carry a bigger load on the same amount of fuel, saving money and reducing pollution. This is crucial, considering that in 2003 more than 90 per cent of all goods that were sent around the globe went by ship – that’s more than 6 billion tonnes, and the figure is set to increase. A recent report from the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), based in Wageningen, says that reducing the friction and hence the drag on a ship’s hull could improve efficiency by up to 20 per cent. “There is currently no other technique in naval architecture that can promise such savings,” it says. But how do you make a ship slippery? So far researchers have tried using tiny bubbles, slippery polymers and trapped sheets of air,