A scientist from Aalto University in Finland has created a tiny aerogel boat that is able to run for over an hour when powered by a single drop of ethanol. Robin Ras‘ creation builds upon the principle of soap boats, which are able to run on a few drops of washing up liquid – however Ras and his colleagues have made some modifications that could transform how ships are designed. Check out a video of the incredible craft after the jump!
While the principles can’t be applied to massive vessels like oil tankers, Ras believes that his system could be used to transport tiny devices across water. The speed of the tiny vehicle can also be altered by using different fuel types.
To conduct the experiment, 25 micro-liters of ethanol were placed on the back of the tiny aerogel boat. The vapor then diffused through the aerogel’s nano-cellulose membranes as it evaporated, lowering the surface tension at the boat’s rear. This created a difference in surface tension between the front and the back of the boat, causing it to be naturally pushed forward. Using this process alone, the craft was able to move by itself for about an hour.
Unfortunately, due to the cost of aerogel and the difficult construction process, the experiment cannot be replicated on a large scale – there is no way to implement it in large-scale frigates because they would cost an astronomical amount and aerogel’s durability is nowhere near tough enough to cope with environmental challenges such as icebergs.
However the team’s experiment could help ship builders change the design of certain vessels to make them more aerodynamic and reduce their fuel consumption. Considering that commercial shipping contributes to a large portion of global emissions, that’s a great start!
Via New Scientist
182 Comments >
19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World's Oceans
- 115 Comments >
- 39 Comments >
- 22 Comments >
- 2002 Comments >
411 Comments >
BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a HP Pavilion dv6 Laptop and Green Prize Package (Worth $1155!)
- 391 Comments >
- 366 Comments >
- 350 Comments >
284 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter to Win a Voltaic Laptop-Charging Solar Backpack Filled With Green School Supplies (Worth $500)!
281 Comments >
GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Sloan AQUS Grey Water Toilet System That Recycles Your Sink Water (Worth $189)!
- 247 Comments >
240 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter Inhabitat's Back To School Contest to Win $250+ of Green Goodies Including a Voltaic Solar Backpack (Worth $129)
- 228 Comments >
- 221 Comments >
- 187 Comments >
Cutting back on your energy usage is one of the best ways to bring down your electricity bill. But did you know that making simple changes to not just your wattage consumption but the way your home retains and expels air can dramatically transform the wayREAD MORE >
Did you know that there are wolves living near you in almost every state in the country? Sadly most of these wolves are not living in the wild, but in wolf sanctuaries, which are conservation organizations set up to protect them and help grow their populationREAD MORE >
Namba Parks was conceived when Osaka Stadium closed down, presenting a great redevelopment opportunity for a new commercial district right next to the Namba Train Station, which is just one stop away from Kansai Airport. Since it's one of the first placesREAD MORE >
Top image: A child is put to work at a militia-run mine in Watsa. © Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic Captured during a 2004 visit to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Bleasdale's images "tell the story of the country's mineral resourceREAD MORE >
You've all heard the tired mantras about changing your lightbulbs and recycling at home in order to save the planet - are you yawning yet? Many consumers think that going green is a gesture of self-sacrifice that often comes at great expense and inconvenienceREAD MORE >
BANANAS You might have heard that bananas are favored by athletes because they contain potassium and it's that same reason that makes them great hangover cures. When you're hungover, your body has lost a lot of potassium that needs to be replenished, so eatingREAD MORE >
Images © Graham King “The shopping cart tree symbolizes both generosity and abundance, as well as acknowledging those less fortunate where their whole world may be housed in a cart. We see shopping carts every day and take them for granted. IndividuallyREAD MORE >
TIP 1: Wrap Your Home in Insulation - "The More, The Better!" Proper insulation is probably the most important factor you can control in creating an energy-efficient home. I always say insulation is like chocolate, the more you have, the better! On average,READ MORE >
While conjuring up comfort in the home seems like a basic principle, it’s a far more complex process for architect & remodeling guru Sarah Susanka, who believes that comfort can significantly influence the sustainability of your personal abode. WithREAD MORE >
Two architects, Jos Burger and Wouter Keijzer of BK. Architecten, in charge of the renovation of the old church decided to preserve the atmosphere of the existing place with a spatial intervention that preserves its historical value. The three new floors wereREAD MORE >
For centuries, the Dutch have manipulated the landscape to move water away from their dwellings. Instead of battling the elements, Netherlands-based firm Waterstudio just announced plans to construct the world's first floating apartment complex in 2014! TheREAD MORE >
The Biomimicry Manual: What can We Learn About Resilience, Weight Loss, and Kidney Disease from the Grizzly Bear?I'm off to the wilds of Montana this week, doing some in-person, up-close biomimicry research, and I've got my fingers crossed I'll see a grizzly bear. But you know, over there, not over here. With five inch long claws, massive muscular shoulders and forearms,READ MORE >