Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Japan Tests Prius of the Sea

A prototype ship harnessing wave power is set for a test voyage from Japan to Hawaii, reports the NY Times. The "Suntory Mermaid II", developed by Tokai University has a large "wave devouring" mechanism beneath the front of the boat designed to "pull… rather than push it." It's a fascinating innovation that needs to be seen to understood.

In addition to absorbing wave power, the craft is also fitted with solar panels. And in case of emergency, there's an outboard motor and sail.

According to patent records, people have been trying to develop wave-powered boats since 1895. Other (unique) environmentally-friendly ships have been powered by pedals and solar panels (yes, I get that sail and oar-powered boats are environmentally friendly, too). The record distance traveled by a pedal-powered craft is 5,362 miles. And a solar powered boat crossed the Pacific once in 148 days.

If this wave-powered boat thing takes off, maybe it can be deployed in shipping vessels to reduce the environmental impact of hauling goods around the world.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.