October 05, 2014
Big Fuel Savings From Massive Container Ships
High oil costs are driving the construction of larger ships. The Mary Maersk can carry 18,000 containers and cuts fuel usage per container almost in half as compared to ships about 10 years older.
During a recent voyage to the Suez, the Mary’s crew sailed on a parallel course with a 10-year-old Maersk container ship that held half as much cargo, but the Mary used only 6 percent more fuel.
We read about composite materials improving aircraft fuel efficiency by 20%. But the construction of bigger ships has more than doubled container carrying fuel efficiency over the last 20 years. Ships carrying 5000 containers have been replaced by ships carrying 18,000 and soon 19,000 containers.
Only European and East Asian ports can handle these ships. Higher fuel prices could cause some North American ports to upgrade to handle them.
One limit to this source of higher efficiency: doesn't work between lower population places.
What I expect will do more to cut shipping costs in the long run: Highly flexible robots that can manufacture complex products locally.
Randall Parker, 2014 October 05 11:35 AM
This is bad for local manufacturing because it makes it cheaper to transport goods from overseas. Still, the primary bottleneck is land transportation.
That is the only hope for Asian countries to continue to send their night soil to the U.S. as additive manufacturing (SLA, FDM etc.) which is flexible robotic manufacturing of dimensionally complex products - multiplies. The end is in sight when America pulls the feeding tube from its mouth and picks up a spoon.
Just subterranean hydrocarbons and ever cheaper additive manufacturing. That's all we need. Humans and not robots will be needed in abundance to deploy that.
Whilst a fleet of nuclear powered container ships might appear to be a neat solution we should be aware of the law of unexpected consequences.
Sulfur dioxide released from ships smokestacks acts as cloud condensation nuclei. These produce clouds with a high albedo (reflectivity) that reflect solar energy back into space.
It may well turn out that these "ship tracks" are responsible for a pronounced cooling of the Earth.
"Man made cloud factories saving the Earth", not something you're likely to hear from the IPCC any time soon I'm guessing.
A similar data analysis should be added based on the Air-Transport industry. They are also big polluters. If we add the results to the big-ship phenomena, we are sure to say humanity as a kind is doomed to death SOON. Our planet can not resist the impact of such irresponsible behavior. Why is this fact not on the front lines of all news? Are we really suicidal as an specie? Or just ignorant passengers on this ship called Earth, not clear of its sad destination. Ready to kill all sorts of life and destroy our planet along the way? What hope can we have for our grandchildren? The article is well written and should be reproduced out loud.