FACILITIES FOR DEVELOPING AUTOMATED AUTONOMOUS SHIP HULLS
THE ROBOT LAB: The robotics laboratory roofed and dry with power and lighting to enable further development of scale models used for testing, without taking workshop space that is used for constructing full size components.
The Cleaner Ocean Foundation (COF) maintains, operates and sometimes improves on their robotic laboratory at their HQ in Sussex, England. The unit has facilities to build large scale models, featuring autonomous energy harvesting apparatus for low drag hulls powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with solar assistance. Especially where the solar assistance is by folding photovoltaic panels, that present a large area to the wind - and may need to be furled.
TEST TANK - Now separated by a moisture proof partition, this is the water
basin that is used to trial scale model hulls.
Commercial shipping is now subject to IMO regulations to rid us of air pollution from dirty bunker diesel oil fumes. The objective is to make marine transport zero emission by 2100. The transition is not going to be easy.
Large cruise liners and cargo ships might benefit from solar assistance, providing some relief for renewably generated hydrogen and electricity, to charge battery vessels, and power fuel cells.
At the moment solar power has taken a back seat due to a lack of suitable deck space, but could be employed if the folding wing system we have in mind is developed as a bolt on accessory, to challenge, and/or supplement wind assisted ships.
DECK AREA MULTIPLIER
As an example, a traditional, large, cargo ship with a deck area of some 5,000 m2 might generate 4,000 kilowatts (kW) in a day. This could be increased (optionally) by a factor of three (area) and doubled (by tracking) to give 24,000 kW in a day (24MW. Converted to propulsion (optimally) by electric pod thrusters, to provide roughly 10-20% of the daily propulsive energy of a cargo vessel. Dependent on efficiencies of the ICE comparison, and assuming a higher conversion rate, electricity in - to thrust - of submerged electric jet thrusters (pods), that have no drive shaft or gearbox losses.
At the moment solar power has taken a back seat due to a lack of suitable deck space, but could be employed if the folding wing system we have in mind is developed as a bolt on accessory, to challenge, and/or supplement wind assisted ships. Care should be taken not to shade PV panels, in designing any installation.
MOISTURE PROOF BARRIER - The frames had to be skinned. In ordinary house builds, plasterboard would suffice. But where we need a moisture proof barrier, we elected to use a hardwood plywood, exterior grade. Liberally treated with Barratine preservatives, using pressure sprayer for application.
As far as we know the system we are developing is unique, and has not been attempted at full scale.
We are working at 1:20 scale. Using a mix of custom build parts, and components that are available off the shelf.
The full size system will more than likely use rotary hydraulic motors. At one twentieth scale we are using a 12 volt dc motor mated to a gearbox for 140:1 reduction. We intend experimenting with other set-ups and even belt reduction systems. Leaving few rocks unturned in the quest for practical perfection.
You need not operate in the maritime sphere to join in this cleaner ocean adventure, merely share an interest in conserving the seven seas with pollution free transport, and a desire to help where you might. On 21st December 2022, we were blessed with one short week where it snowed and settled. Temperatures plummeted to 1-3 degrees C. And the ponds in the Park froze over almost completely for one day. Our roving cameraman captured the stunning picture below, on his way back from the little village of Herstmonceux, heading south, just slightly off the beaten track. One week later it rained and temperatures climbed to 10 degrees centigrade. It has not stopped raining since, and it is very nearly the New Year 2023 as we write.
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