General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

How promising is the "air lubrication" idea to increase the speed of ships and reduce the consumption of fuel?

Asked by mattbrowne (31633points) June 30th, 2012

From http://www.gizmag.com/mitsubishi-air-lubrication-system/21196/

“Mitsubishi reduces friction on ship hulls by blowing bubbles:

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has coupled the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS) with a high-efficiency ship hull in the conceptual design for a container ship that the company claims would offer a reduction in CO2 emissions of 35 percent compared to conventional container carrier designs.

This isn’t the first time a layer of air has been proposed as a way to reduce the friction between a ship’s hull and the water. While MALS creates a layer of air bubbles by pumping air to the vessel’s bottom, researchers are also looking at developing superhydrophobic surfaces modeled on the water fern salvinia molesta, which is able to remain completely dry when submerged by trapping a layer of air on the surface of its leaves using tiny hairs.”

Any thoughts? Will this enable us to cross the Atlantic on a ship doing 100 mph?

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6 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I think passive systems, like shark skin like surfaces, will be more promising than active systems, as those also consume energy.
I am also not sure how the bubbles would affect the vessels buoyancy.

marinelife's avatar

If successful, such a technology could re-energize travel by sea.

prasad's avatar

I am not sure, but I think it’s the same idea like the hovercraft to lift the hull off the water. It can increase the speed, though it’s not completely lifted. And, reduced friction will eventually consume less fuel. And also the ships carry tons of load that hovercrafts may not.

dabbler's avatar

I think the bubble-layer technology could make ordinary cargo-ship speeds much more efficient but I don’t think it’s a technology for 100mph. I’m guessing you’d have trouble producing a bubbles coating that fast, but heck, maybe.
At that speed there’s some similarity to super-cavitation which could allegedly get a small underwater troop transport moving over 100 knots.

gorillapaws's avatar

I thought giant kites were the future of increased fuel efficiency for trans-ocean cargo shipping.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gorillapaws – Yes, but imagine this being combined with air lubrication.

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