Gallery: Could Boiling the Sea Make Shipping by Boat More Efficient?


This is probably the most peculiar method we have heard of to make commercial shipping more efficient, but scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia and the King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia believe that boiling the sea could be a viable way to achieve that goal. Scientists believe they can reduce the amount of fuel a tanker uses by implementing a centuries old scientific method called The Leidenfrost Effect which occurs when one sprinkles water into a boiling hot frying pan. Read on to see how they plan to apply this phenomenon to ships sailing the ocean.

When you drop water onto a hot surface, the droplets instantly scatter and run to the lowest part of the pan. This happens because a thin vapor layer between the droplet and the hot pan reduces friction to almost nothing. It is hoped that the same can be applied to shipping. Scientists believe that if they heat the hull to over 212 degrees Farenheit, the water next to the hull will boil, reducing friction to near zero. Of course some questions immediately spring to mind – how will you heat the hull of a huge ship to 212 degrees F without using a boatload of energy? How will this affect the hull of the ship? How will this affect the marine life near the vessel?

It will be interesting to see how much energy is actually saved with this method, but seeing as greenhouse gas emissions from worldwide shipping currently account for more than 3 percent of all annual global emissions (more than the entire UK economy) – something has to be done.

+ University of Melbourne

Via Eureka Alert

Images © Ralph Hockens and asgw


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  1. Anon1111 June 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Hell no. They’d be boiling the marine wildlife. I am totally against this.

  2. lazyreader June 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Global shipping accounts for 3 percent of the emissions. All in all that’s rather efficient. Putting more freight on each ship, that’s efficient. Keeping the hull clean of objects and barnacles, streamlining the ships they build. Why not lube the ships hulls with KY jelly for smooth sailing.

  3. shaw June 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    It will actually be more interesting to see how people equate biological effects with energy saving.

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