Friday, May 06, 2005

Friday Hope Blogging

This week, I have a few ocean-related stories.

Treehugger has a fascinating article on hydrogen-powered sailing. A system designed by a California-based firm called HaveBlue allows boats to pump water out of the ocean, and electrolyze it to hydrogen using solar power, wind power, and motion.

HaveBlue's website describes the process in more detail:

In the same way that solar panels, wind generators, engine alternators and shore power can be used with charge controllers to charge house batteries, HaveBlue systems use solar panels, wind generators, regenerative electric motors and shore power to "charge" or fill hydrogen tanks by splitting (electrolyzing) water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented harmlessly to the atmosphere, the hydrogen is plumbed into hydrogen tanks. The very pure water required is produced onboard as well with customized reverse osmosis water makers and de-ionization systems. Each step in the process takes power and imposes an energy “loss” on the original source of energy. Of the original energy “in” a percentage remains in the tanks. There are further losses on use of the hydrogen, but at a much lower level (greater efficiency) than fossil fuel (diesel or gas) at the fuel cell and electric drive steps.
HaveBlue estimates that by 2008, outfitting a boat with one of these systems will add only 20% to the cost of a sailing vessel.

Another innovative vessel currently under development could clean oil spills before they reach land:
In the event of an oil spill, this 120m trimaran would be capable of arriving very quickly on the scene. It could operate in gale force 7 winds and 8m waves, to collect, store and treat a slick before it hits a beach.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is using electronic imaging techniques to detect ghostnets. These are lost or abandoned fishing nets which can float around indefinitely, killing birds and fish. Detecting them from the air is an important step in launching clean-up efforts; a removal project is slated to begin early next year. The nice thing about remote sensing of this type is that it'll allow clean-up in the open ocean; ghostnets are more destructive - and harder to remove - when they drift towards land and get tangled on reefs.

Last, Dick Durbin and Christopher Shays recently reintroduced the bipartisan Clean Cruise Ship Act, which would - among other things - limit the staggering amount of sewage and other wastes that most cruise ships dump into the ocean. You can support this bill by clicking here.

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