The Wave-Powered Suntory Mermaid Ship - All Set For its First Voyage

Most of us are aware of how many times oil spills in large ships cause irreversible damage to the ocean life and pollute and destroy the marine resources. Since quite some time now, people have been exploring alternative sources of energy to make eco-friendly ships. And looks like one of them has actually succeeded. After the air-powered car, here comes a wave-powered boat! The three-ton catamaran Suntory Mermaid-II is all set for its first voyage from Hawaii to Japan in May 2008.

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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