html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Girl talk with my sister

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Girl talk with my sister

I sent my sister this:

Really? Sails on container ships?

She sent me:

yah, really. i just started hearing about this myself.
it's a little hard to imagine it catching on widespread, though. a whole extra system on board? does it come with a person who knows how to use it? who decides when to hoist it? who knows how to pack it just right? what if it falls in the water? what if it gets tangled up in the prop? how much does it cost, will it offset that much in fuel costs? what if the wind is variable?
i like the notion.

get this: if a containership slows down 10% it will get a 25% savings in fuel usage... guess how much money that is? you know, $25,000 per day.

***
$25,000 per day? That is craziness. That means that traveling faster must be worth even more than that. My sister says that crane operators who can shave a few hours off unloading a container ship get tips of $10,000 to $20,000 dollars. Wow.

If she sends me more, I'll post it for you.

UPDATE 1:
She wrote back:
full steam ahead they burn 200 metric tonnes of fuel every 24 hours, and right now fuel costs $500/metric tonne. so that's a lot of money.
but if they slow down too much they won't stay on schedule. so then they might have to add an extra ship to the string, and that might cost even more money! see?


UPDATE 2: You could ask her questions in the comments. Offline, I'll beg her to answer and promise extra babysitting.

6 Comments:

Blogger LizardBreath said...

Sweet. That looks like basically a big spinnaker, though, which means you need someone skillful messing with it at all times, I'd think. For wind power to be practical again, I'd think you'd really need a container ship designed for it, not an after-market addition.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous swissarmyd said...

in terms of slowing down to save fuel... I was under the impression that most ship systems are computerized, so fuel rates, speed and so on are accounted for. Based on GPS and satnav uplink to the home office, all of those variables are fed into the scheduling systems... I'd figure speed versus cost would have already been figured in, but I'd be curious to find out if that's true. Some things that seem common sense, are ignored or turn out not to be. But there is always market pressure to get the system maximized...

I would also wonder if they have matrixed weather into their calculations, and if they go around rough weather. Seems like laboring in heavy seas, would be quite expensive, but maybe it's to hard to factor.

All in all a very interesting subject, given how much is tranferred in container ships.

I'd help with the babysat, but the 1200 mile commute is a killer...

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why speed limits for cars were brought down to 55 in the 70's -- greater fuel efficiency.

But they're on the rise again, and I don't think the drivers want to slow down.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Dang, I tried to comment earlier, but my browser burped and then I had a thing to go to...

They should put some wind turbines up in there, to offset fuel use. For crosswinds, and whatnot.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Hold on... if she answers my question does that mean I have to baby-sit the kids?

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

"full steam ahead they burn 200 metric tonnes of fuel every 24 hours, and right now fuel costs $500/metric tonne."

The article says they can save 10-35% on fuel costs. That comes to $10,000 in savings per day, minimum, with the sail. Yeah, I'd say it's worth it to hire another person or two to man the sail.

6:55 AM  

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