Friday, December 29, 2006
Using Eco-Friendly Wind to Pull Cargo
I try to recycle just about everything that I discard. Even here in Vienna, where they have a very progressive recycling problem, I use it to the maximum recycling everything from pizza boxes to the plastic caps on my toothpaste. Which is why I was intrigued when I recently saw a Discovery channel documentary on how wind was used to move the giant bricks that built the pyramids of ancient Egypt. I wouldn't have believed it if you told me, but using a simple demonstration the scientists attached a massive kite to a two-ton block and it actually moved several feet. So what does this have to do with supply chains you ask? Well, coincidentally, a company called SkySails has been gaining some press attention about a recent demonstration using kites or paragliders to pull cargo containers to reduce fuel costs. The upfront costs for the equipment aren't cheap, but the savings are significant. According to SkySails the kites can generate 6,800 horsepower and reduce annual fuel costs by between 10 percent and 35 percent under normal conditions with 50 percent under extreme wind. There is another company called CargoLifter using giant hot air balloons to also move cargo all across Europe. This is real brilliance and I hope it becomes more then just an exercise.