The primary objective in designing this ship is to make alternative energy work economically and practically. And here's a brief explanation of how that is achieved. As the above picture shows, a pair of side-by-side fins in the ship's bow absorb wave energy and express it in a dolphin-like "kick". Since the fins react to the waves, the ship as a whole remains remarkably steady. Sort of like driving over a bumpy road - your car's tires jounce and bounce yet the passenger cabin does not.
The Suntory Mermaid II is the latest of a number of Japanese eco-powered, recycled aluminum construction watercraft sponsored by Asahi News, supported by Suntory Co. and built by the Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Company. Kenichi Horie, veteran of a number of eco-voyages over the past decade and a half will captain and crew the vessel on its May 2008 inaugural 4350 miles long voyage from Honolulu, Hawaii to Kii Suido, Japan on wave power alone.
Unlike pedal-power, the Mermaid II's innovative wave propulsion system shows the way for large cargo shops to go green, but that comes with the associated disadvantge of low-speed. The Mermaid II has a maximum speed of just five knots and will take two to three months to make the trip from Hawaii to Japan, compared to a diesel-powered craft's single month journey. But that shouldn't be a problem for large cargo ships.
The recycled-aluminum hulled catamaran is equipped with 8 solar panels producing 560 watts power to run electrical lighting and Horie's computer & phone. The ship does have an outboard motor engine and a sail, but they're only there for use in case of emergency. The massive ship sounds like the perfect design for its intended use. At least we'll not be responsible for large-scale depletion of non-renewable marine resources!
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