Wave Powered Boats, and a 4800 mile trip

Categories: Mobility

Treehugger presented a story about a wave powered boat and its sailor (Heinichi Horie), who had the guts to go from Honolulu to Japan on a 4,800 miles trip, with a boat powered solely by the waves. Today he finished his trip, according to Associated Press (July 2008).  

The wave powered boat is called “Suntory Mermaid II”. It has a speed of 5 knots, which is three times slower than traditional diesel powered boats. With some improvement in the wave-propulsion technology and combining it with wind sailing we can hope that it will become competitive with fossil fuels-powered boats.

Here’s a quick description of the way this boat works:

“Two fins mounted side by side beneath the bow move up and down with the incoming waves and generate dolphin-like kicks that propel the boat forward. “Waves are a negative factor for a ship-they slow it down,” says Yutaka Terao, an engineering professor at Tokai University in Japan who designed the boat’s propulsion system. “But the Suntory can transform wave energy into propulsive power regardless of where the wave comes from.”

Here are some pictures of this amazing wave powered boat. Click on any of them to enlarge:

The Japanese sailor, Horie, says the trip was the world’s longest solo voyage in a wave-powered boat.  He also says he took his time because the sea was calm and the weather was beautiful. The 69 year-old sailor isn’t at his first attempt to go green with sailing, because in 1992 he pedaled a boat from Hawaii to Okinawa in southern Japan. And that’s not all: in 1996 he sailed nearly 10,000 miles from Ecuador to Tokyo aboard a solar-powered boat made from recycled aluminum beer cans. So this achievement was only the latest brave green story for him.

The following video will give all of us inspiration and dreams of how wave power might be utilized to create motion or to generate power.  Watch it, then go build something awesome!

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