Monday, October 12, 2009

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: How Cruise Ships are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly‏

by Musa Aykac

There has been a great deal of criticism in the press recently about the negative environmental implications that cruise ships have. Many people thought that cruising was a much better alternative than flying when it came to looking after the planet, but research of late has proved otherwise. Most experts now believe that cruising is one of the most inefficient and harmful ways to travel and have called for cruise lines to do something about it.

As cruising is big business and no organization wants to be given a fine or indeed be known as a non-eco establishment, many have been hard at working thinking of ways to make cruising a more viable option going forward. Here are 3 elements that have been put forward by the major cruise companies so far to help reduce carbon emissions, and it is thought all 3 of these will be implemented in new ship design in the next 5 years.

Lighter Ships: Previously all ships have been made of high grade steel and iron which has provided great strength, but has meant that they have ended up weighing vast amounts. Because the ships still floated well these materials continued to be used, but the extra weight causes the ship to sit deeper in the water and this increases drag, which pushes fuel usage up. New alloy materials have been proposed for the ships that are up to 30% lighter, but just as strong as the traditional materials. When you consider the size of the ships, this would work out as an incredible reduction in weight and therefore an equally large reduction in fuel usage.

More Efficient Engines: Cruise ships need to have powerful engines to even get moving, let alone transport thousands of tons of weight across an ocean. The engines in an average cruise ship generate around 50,000 horsepower and if these engines are not efficient, they will burn fuel at a staggering rate. The engine designs in many cruise ships have not changed much in the last 10 years and after calls have been made to generate more power using less fuel, most of the big companies are researching new ways of generating power, including utilizing renewable wave energy to help drive pistons.

More Hydro-Dynamic Shapes: Much like engine design, ship hull design has not changed much either over the centuries. The priority has always been with stability first and hydro-dynamics second, which has led to ships being designed that do not cut through the water or deal with waves as well as they might. Designers in Scandinavia have been working on a radical new hull design that is more rounded at the top, rather than the traditional V-shaped hulls that split the water and push it aside. The rounded hull instead causes the water to glide over its surface and this reduces the amount of energy lost by the ship. The designers say the new design is up to 20% more efficient, which is again a very promising figure and one that will go a long way to help make cruising more environmentally friendly. - Luxury Cruises

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