Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Japanese twist on green dream

Published on November 27, 2012 by   ·   No Comments

Japan-based Eco Marine Power Ltd (EMP) has come up with two pretty nifty green technology-related power and propulsion systems for use onboard a range of ships.  Established in Fukuoka in 2010, the East Asian brain boxes aim to reduce noxious emissions at the same time as reducing operating costs.  And what are their secret weapons?  Just the wind and sun.

This may sound like nothing new, after all in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus would never have sailed the ocean blue without a bit of wind in his sails, but EMP has something rather more advanced in mind.

New spin on natural technologies

Their first concept, the EnergySail, is essentially an array of rigid sails to aid propulsion for naval and coastguard ships as well as patrol vessels.  They are designed to withstand high winds and, to adapt to prevailing weather conditions, the sails will automatically rise and fall – or indeed stow away completely in truly adverse circumstances.  A frigate may take four EnergySails whilst something smaller could be fitted with just two.  By way of a twist, the EnergySail could also become hybrid with a range of solar and wind power technologies so, even at anchor, the devices would be able to top up on “free” energy.

Greg Atkinson, Director of R&D at EMP said, “We view this latest development of our marine renewable energy technologies as a major step forward in terms of bringing safe, practical and cost effective wind and solar power systems to world shipping.  The use of renewable energy on naval, coastguard and maritime patrol ships would reduce their fuel consumption and noxious gas emissions plus extend the patrol and operating ranges of these vessels.  In addition the use of wind power could potentially allow these ships to operate significantly quieter at lower speeds than conventional ships.”

EMP also recognises the fact that wind and solar power technologies will come on in leaps and bounds during the operational lifespan of a vessel so the EnergySail is designed to be easily reconfigured, updated or upgraded.  Meanwhile an EnergySail variation is already on the drawing board to suit Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) and smaller ships such as fishing boats and passenger ferries.  This nicely brings us on to EMP’s next concept – the Medaka eco-commuter ferry.

Eco-friendly commuter ferry

An idea sparked in 2011, the eco-commuter ferry is tailored to urban waterways, is designed to carry between 100 and 150 seated passengers, and uses an eco-friendly advanced solar-electric propulsion system to allow for emission-free cruising.  A roof-mounted “lid” of solar modules provides the power backed by an onshore charging point for rapid recharge.  The solar panels will normally be at a slight angle to attract the best rays but can be raised or lowered – particularly when passing under low bridges or other obstacles.  Not only have EMP looked at Medaka’s propulsion system, but they have also taken into account the energy and resources it would take to build the ferry and pledge that most of it can be recycled at the end of its service life.  You can’t get more eco that than.



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