Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Airbags for ships save lives, environment and cargo

24.06.2014

Innovative rapidly inflating balloon technology could keep damaged ships afloat. But more fine-tuning needs to be done and there are some concerns about reliability.

When a ship runs aground, or two vessels crash into each other, the damaged one may lose its stability, or worse, sink. But imagine if after a ship accident, balloons popped up like car airbags to keep the disabled vessel upright and afloat.


by Hanns-J. Neubert

Image credits to: Corey Seeman

This would help to avoid pollution of seas and beaches and gain valuable time for evacuation. Now, the EU-funded project SuSy, completed in 2013, have turned such an idea into a proof of concept. The project developed a proposal to install inflatables on ships including a system to blow them up vary rapidly.

The proof of concept culminated in 2013 with a demonstration of the idea on a model bottom of a medium-sized tanker in the port of Chalkida, in Greece. “Our challenge was to produce enormous amounts of gas from small cartridges which is quickly released into inflatables,” describes project partner Reinhard Ahlers, managing director of Balance, a maritime consultancy in Bremen, Germany.

The technologies used by the project are not new, but the combination is. Kevlar reinforced balloons can be installed anywhere on a ship. Suitable places to install the balloons would be in between double hulls and in ballast water tanks. The gadgets needed to inflate them are taken from submarine rescue systems, based on rapid blow out devices originally developed for satellite launchers.

However, one expert voices concern at the project’s approach. “Given the location of balloons in the double hull, not only will the construction of the ship be much more difficult and costly. But inspection and maintenance will be almost impossible – hence these systems will be unreliable,” says Egbert Ypma, researcher at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands in Wageningen, in the Netherlands.

To ensure that prompt inflation, the project devised cartridges attached to balloons holding potassium nitrate, used in gunpowder, an epoxy resin and ferric oxide commonly known as rust. When initiated, the gunpowder oxidises the epoxy resin which puffs into the balloons inflating them.

What is more, rust improves the explosion process. But blasts produce heat, which may harm the plastic skin of the balloons or inflammable cargo. Therefore ambient cool air is mixed into the chemical explosion process. This comes either from a second cartridge containing compressed air. Or by using a heat exchanger device just before the gas enters the balloon.

In addition to solving the inflation problem, further fine-tuning needs to be done, according to project scientists. “For example, it would be desirable to have controls at the gas exhaust, as we do not always need the entire outflow,” Ahlers tells CommNet. The German rocket technology company Astrium in Bremen, Germany, now part of Airbus Defence and Space, continues to look for a solution.

Whereas Survitec, a specialist in marine, defence and aerospace survival technology with its headquarters in Dunmurry near Belfast, UK,  who bought the original project partner Deutsche Schlauchboot in Eschershausen, Germany, will optimise the inflatable material of the balloons. Thus, there is still some way to go. “None of the partners assume that the system will be bought immediately,” says Ahlers.

One expert believes the system is worth investigating further. “I think that the idea to have a balloon in the ballast tanks in order to push out the water, or try to reduce a damage opening due to those in between a double hull, will be one step forward to enhance maritime safety,” concludes Jonas Ringsberg, professor in marine structures and head of the Division of Marine Design at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  

http://www.youris.com

Silvia Raimondi | AlphaGalileo

Further reports about: Germany Netherlands airbag balloon Technology maritime satellite

More articles from Innovative Products:

nachricht Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks
22.02.2017 | Technische Universität Chemnitz

nachricht A shampoo bottle that empties completely -- every last drop
27.06.2016 | Ohio State University

All articles from Innovative Products >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>