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 Winter Hack: Textured Rubber that Grips Slick, Icy Surfaces
18.03.2015 | American Institute of Physics (AIP)

nachricht Turn sea-water into drinking water – just add sunshine
02.12.2014 | Desolenator

All articles from Innovative Products >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Experiment Provides the Best Look Yet at 'Warm Dense Matter' at Cores of Giant Planets

In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...

Im Focus: Energy-autonomous and wireless monitoring protects marine gearboxes

The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.

As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...

Im Focus: 3-D satellite, GPS earthquake maps isolate impacts in real time

Method produced by UI researcher could improve reaction time to deadly, expensive quakes

When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.

Im Focus: Atlantic Ocean overturning found to slow down already today

The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. 

Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...

Im Focus: Robot inspects concrete garage floors and bridge roadways for damage

Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.

From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference On Regenerative Medicine 2015: Registration And Abstract Submission Now Open

25.03.2015 | Event News

University presidents from all over the world meet in Hamburg

19.03.2015 | Event News

10. CeBiTec Symposium zum Big Data-Problem

17.03.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biology in a twist -- deciphering the origins of cell behavior

31.03.2015 | Life Sciences

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance

31.03.2015 | Materials Sciences

Research Links Two Millennia of Cyclones, Floods, El Niño

31.03.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>