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Fly a kite -- GO!!
February 28, 2011 - 8:45pm

Cargill isn't just an agricultural products company, it's also a shipping company. (Shipping, I suspect, mostly agricultural products.)

Today it was announced that Cargill is working with a German outfit called SkySails to use big sails/chutes/kites as secondary means of propulsion for oceangoing commercial vessels. The kites won't make the ships go faster -- cruising speed on a displacement vessel is controlled by length at the water line, but they will make the ships use less fuel. About a third less. That's quite a savings (in both cost and carbon).

The only question in my mind is whether, to get maximum thrust from these kites, the ships will have to extend their routes significantly. (Kind of like the old square-riggers whose routes were determined buy the trade winds.)

But, with that reservation, kites seem like that sort of everything-old-is-new-again innovation that's quick, effective, affordable, and available now.

Gotta love it.


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