By Dongyu Qu
Even as it takes its distressing toll, the current pandemic has generated a flurry of less somber memes. Some of these involve people stuck at home, unable to tear themselves from the pantry, piling on the pounds. But for many in the developing world, the lockdowns mean the exact opposite: they cannot get anywhere near the pantry.
The shipping industry is coming to grips with its egregious carbon footprint, as it has an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and to the dumping of chemicals into open seas. Already, the global shipping industry contributes about 2 percent of global carbon emissions, about the same as Germany, as the BBC reported.
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By Marlene Cimons
Nearly a century ago, German engineer Anton Flettner launched a ship into the ocean. "Without sails or steam, like a ghost ship, it moved mysteriously through the water with no apparent means of propulsion," according to a 1925 article that appeared in Popular Science Monthly. The ship cruised in silence, without spewing anything into the air. Curiously, two odd-looking, giant spinning cylinders rose from her deck as "the ship plowed its way through the rough waters of the Baltic, at nearly twice its former speed," the article said.
Flettner's rotor ship, the Buckau, in 1924.
Traffic jam in New Delhi.
The amount of energy used per person per mile by different forms of transport, as measured in metric tons of oil.
An airplane flying above Chicago.
Pexels<p>There are major obstacles to overcome, however, before batteries will routinely power planes, especially on longer flights. Current batteries are too heavy to carry planes very far; research must focus on making them lighter. Because of these drawbacks, scientists are looking at other options, including <a href="https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/1.C035070?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">hybrid systems</a> that pair batteries with fuel.</p><p>Xianguo Li, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering at the <a href="https://uwaterloo.ca/?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">University of Waterloo</a>, is working on something similar, pairing batteries with fuel cells for use in automobiles. He believes his system will last as much as ten times longer than current fuel cells and can be produced cheaply enough to eventually replace conventional gas engines. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030626191930337X?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">The system</a> consists of a battery and three fuel cell units of identical size that shift among themselves, depending on the amount of power needed.</p>
Professor Xianguo Li seen here with his fuel cell test vehicle in his lab.
University of Waterloo<p>"During low speed driving, the battery provides the power," Li said. "One of the three fuel cell units would be activated if the battery energy level is low or battery power is not sufficient, and the fuel cell output would be used partly for driving and partly for charging the battery. If the vehicle speeds, two of the three fuel cells would be activated, and at full load all three fuel cells would be activated." But the fuel cells likely would last longer because a vehicle needs full power only around one-third of the time, he said.</p><p>Similarly, Li's Waterloo colleague, <a href="https://uwaterloo.ca/mechatronic-vehicle-systems-lab/?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">Amir Khajepour</a>, has developed a new <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0957415818300230?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">valve technology</a> that increases the efficiency of conventional internal combustion engines by more than 10 percent. He also has created a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217305832?source=post_page---------------------------" target="_blank">battery system</a> that harnesses and stores heat that a vehicle creates when it brakes, but still allows refrigeration units and air conditioners to run during idling.</p><p>"Combustion engines will be the horse force of heavy transportations for many years to come," he said. "In addition, the current vehicles especially used in city buses or utility fleets have at least another decade of life span. Any technology that can reduce the fuel consumption and emissions of such vehicles will have a huge impact in making the transportation system greener."</p>
By Verner Wilson II
2018 was a breakthrough year for Arctic conservation work at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). I wrote partly about it in my previous blog. Aside from obtaining internationally recognized routing measures and shipping areas to be avoided (ATBA) in the Bering Sea, IMO also moved forward with regulations to ban the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic.
The United Nations shipping agency also moved to regulate climate-change causing greenhouse gas emissions in the international shipping industry, which is one of the largest emitters of carbon and other atmosphere pollutants. I look forward to continuing that type of work into 2019. And there will be plenty of opportunity for that, as there are a number of IMO subcommittee meetings that will consider pollution reduction and prevention measures. The people who I believe made some of the most significant differences in this work in 2018 were able to come to IMO with me last fall.
By James J. Winebrake and James J Corbett
The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency that regulates global shipping, is writing new rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2050 as it implements other regulations that will mandate cleaner-burning fuels at sea by 2020.