Waterways are getting more and more busy, both internationally and in The Netherlands. The impact of recreational boating on our environment is increasing. Reed fringes and embankments are under strain and require more frequent maintenance, in more exotic cruising grounds emission and grey/black water dumping are posing problematic. Coupled to this is the desire of boat owners to unwind and relax on the water, which can lead to increased pressure on so called ‘silence areas’, national parks and marine sanctuaries. Pollution-free, quiet, self-sufficient boats can help to address these issues. In the future, the use of fossil fuels for boating purposes will be further restricted; for example in the Dutch capital Amsterdam it will soon be prohibited to use any type of internal combustion engine on the canals and rivers. Tighter regulations in busy areas demand for changes in the recreational boating industry. The recreational boater is actively seeking experiences offering peace & quiet, busy ports and noisy craft don’t fit into this picture. The concept of Autark-Zero responds to these changes in the marketplace.
Shipbuilding using timber:
In construction on land, timber is being used more and more, replacing concrete and steel. Thanks to improved design software, glue processes, computer-driven milling and sawing timber has become a ‘new’ construction material. Examples of this in construction are Cross Laminated Technology (CLT) enabling highrise up to 20 levels completely from timber (eg residential tower Haut in Amsterdam)!
In Europe, there are already sufficient established forestry plantations to supply the demand. In Holland (Wood land) the area of forestry plantations still needs to increase, although even at this moment in time some 60 dwellings are ‘grown’ by Dutch forests every day! There are many positive aspects to wood in terms of sustainability and offsetting climate change pollution: wood stores high levels of CO2 that does not enter the atmosphere as long as it’s serving its purpose as building material. Looking at the overall manufacturing process of building materials, timber is much more sustainable than steel or concrete which are very energy-intensive to produce (like many other common building materials): the industry emits 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. Production timber has the opposite effect; the wood acts as a carbon sink so the CO2 counter is going down! This is a goal Microsoft recently announced for example; not to be ‘climate neutral’ but ‘climate positive’ : absorb more CO2 than emit!
Our goal is to research the feasibility of timber as construction material in commercial shipping; for example coastal freighters of 80-100m length. Following up on the sail of the Autark-Zero we aim to develop a robust sail for commercial offshore shipping. Freighters with rigid wing sails equipped with solar cells, electric propulsion and sailing autonomously. Various aspects of the practical use of a wing sail on a cargo ship have to be researched and tested in more detail; the wing sail for example should not obstruct the loading / unloading process and it should be able to withstand extreme weather conditions to name a few.
The super yacht industry is currently working on a world-first project: a 140m mega-yacht built completely out of timber (by Dutch naval design firm Dijkstra)! Not only will it be the biggest sailing yacht ever made, but also the biggest timber boat of all times! Unique and innovative projects like this will develop a lot of new knowledge and techniques that will mature into commercial applications in mainstream ship- and boat building.
Green Marine Concepts is closely following developments like these and aims to be involved with projects that share our vision.