20 October 2008

Rolls Royce flying back to the future with propellors...

Propellors are making a comeback in aviation according to this article The Guardian. Conventional jet engines are less economical than turboprops. When oil was cheap that didn't matter. Now it does.

With rising oil costs (I know they've dropped of late, but it won't be for long) and the inevitable need for shipping stuff around, ships are going to have to find ways to reduce fuel consumption. Our contact on the (now sadly defunct) Scholarship reported that it cost too much in fuel to stop the ship at sea - say for a spot of sampling - and get her underway again.

Increasing the hydrodynamic efficiency of hulls will only make limited gains. Shipping less stuff around the world would help, but in the end ships are going to have to help themselves along with...sails using this free thing called the wind. A far-sighted, philanthropic shipbuilding company or shipping magnate might think of a seagoing Beagle as a way of collecting data on how sails can assist in reducing fuel consumption (and therefore pollution; bunker oil is a potent source of pollution), under which conditions and on which routes such a vessel might best work.

That magnate might put a chunk of cash into the build and fund a research programme around the work.

3 comments:

Karen James said...

Sails R Us.

Kevin Zelnio said...

I do hope you are approaching said philanthropic ship builders. Because posting such excellent ideas on this blog, as superb as it is, might not reach all the appropriate people. I know, it is sad that this fine example of charitable outreach goes unviewed by some. We'll have to change that for sure. But I want to see this thing built pronto!

Karen James said...

Right on, Kevin. Rest assured that for every blog post you see here there is lots of scurrying about offline (and by email ...which is practically offline let's face it) to try and get the dosh.