Rotterdam-based marine-engineering firm DK Group has been quietly testing one of the strangest-sounding technologies to come along in the recent past— a ship that floats on air. This past September, the company let loose a 272 foot long cargo vessel in Norway’s Oslo Fjord. 25 feet below the ship’s surface, recesses built into the underside of the vessel’s hull created drag-reducing pockets.
The reduction in drag meant that the ship used 7 percent less oil than it normally would. It also significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
DK Group estimates that implementing air cavity systems to ships adds only 2 to 3 percent to building costs.
If the company’s technology is widely adopted, it could be hugely beneficial to the merchant shipping industry, which emits 800 million tons of CO2 annually. And of course, anything that even begins to wean us off petroleum deserves praise.
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