Mind & Matter

 

Solar Sails

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Solar sail panels by Eco Marine Power.

 

One of the predictions of future energy cost increases is an increased emphasis on marine-based shipping. Recently, sea-based transportation just got another boost, in the form of a novel solution concocted by the company Eco Marine Power. The Japan-based organization has decided to capitalize on the unlimited access to sun and large berths of large shipping vessels by installing collections of solar sails.

As the name suggests, the sails will collect energy from sunlight and harness the wind to power nautical vessels—primarily oil tankers and large carriers. The company claims that the sails may be carefully positioned to capture optimal sunlight and wind; however, it would seem that these two forms of energy will not always share the same alignment. Nevertheless, the compelling idea is taking hold, earning Eco Marine Power a place in the final rounds of the Green Shipping Initiative of the Year award in July. The technology is currently being developed for retrofit installations, and is being tested for extreme weather conditions.

 

 
 

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.