Could This High-Tech Kite Be the Solution To Cargo Ships’ Pollution Problem?


argo boating
Recreational boating depends on a clean marine environment and high tech solutions to problems like cargo ship pollution may be one way to help

Approximately 675 shipping containers are lost at sea every year. Though this is absolutely concerning for whoever owns the cargo being transported, it’s not as serious as some of the environmental issues associated with these large container ships and their diesel engines.

Shipping fuel is one of the most polluting forms of oil and the cargo shipping market, which carries 90% of the world’s products across the globe, is also responsible for more than 3% of global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It’s estimated that a single container ship can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.

50 million cars!

And, if that’s not enough to show how much the cargo shipping industry impacts the environment, just 15 of these cargo shipping vessels emit the same amount of pollution as all the vehicles in the world.

Yes, all the vehicles in the world.

Clearly, something needs to be done.



Solutions for the Cargo Pollution Problem

Most cargo ships rely on extremely toxic gas known as “bunker” fuel. This shipping fuel is full of sulfur, a dangerous greenhouse gas. While this shipping fuel powers the ship’s diesel engines, they do great damage to the atmosphere.

Today, there are about 50 different types of diesel engines available to consumers, and diesel vehicles tend to be more eco-friendly than alternatives. However, that’s not the case with cargo ships, which rely on dangerous shipping fuel, which is thought to contribute to childhood asthma and other health problems.

The International Marine Organization (IMO), the sector’s governing body, has introduced plans to reduce the amount of sulfur allowed in shipping fuel from 3.5% to 0.5%, though these changes won’t take place until the start of 2020, which should subsequently cut total carbon emissions in half by 2050.

According to Forbes, commercial shipping and aircraft maker Airbus has found a new way to cut shipping costs by 20%. That new way? High-tech kites.

Airbus’ start-up company AirSeas, which is run by a group of engineers who specialize in aeronautics and the ocean, has developed a giant version of the kites that kitesurfers use to fly across oceans. The SeaWing is actually large enough to tow some of the largest cargo vessels in the world.

The SeaWing is autonomous and can deploy, unfurl, and operate according to data its system collects on weather conditions and area factors. When the kite is no longer needed, it automatically winds itself in until it is needed again.

The future of cargo shipping is finally here… and it’s a giant kite.

If that sounds odd, it shouldn’t. After all, we’ve been using sails to power ships for thousands of years.



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Valerie M.

Contributor at My Boat Life
Valerie is a writer from Upstate New York, where she enjoys camping, boating, nature, and traveling. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from The State University of New York at Fredonia in 2016. When she isn’t writing for small businesses all over the country, she likes to blog about the outdoors and environmental issues.
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