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Biofuel powers world record attempt March 26, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in energy, explore, technology, world.
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Earthrace (Florida, Jim Burkett)

A world tour with a difference will kick off this Saturday, March 29, as the Earthrace team tries to make the fastest world circumnavigation ever in a boat entirely fueled by biodiesel.

The team, led by New Zealander Pete Bethune, will begin their journey of more than 24,000 nautical miles in Valencia, Spain.

Earthrace will sail westward, stopping in the Azores and Puerto Rico before going through the Panama Canal and on to Manzanillo, Mexico and San Diego. From there it will hopscotch across the Pacific, stopping in Hawaii, the Marshall Islands and Palou before stopping in Singapore. The final leg will take the crew from Conchin, India to Oman and through the Suez Canal to Valencia.

This is the second world record attempt by the Earthrace team, following a failed attempt last year. After a tragic collision with a Guatemalan fishing boat in March 2007 that resulted in the loss of one fisherman and left the boat in need of repair, Earthrace finally had to abandon the race while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in May, following the third storm in three weeks that left a 2-metre crack in the hull floor.

Since then, Earthrace conducted a public relations tour of European ports, and has just completed a major refit in Spain. The team has tried to make it as environmentally friendly as possible, installing filters for bilgewater, eating organic foods, and using a non-toxic antifouling coating (to keep off the barnacles).

The B100 biodiesel fuel (that’s 100% pure bio, no diesel) powering Earthrace includes a unique additive: human fat. Bethune and two other crew members underwent liposuction, stripping fat from their bodies to make into seven litres of biofuel, enough to power the boat for about 15 kilometres.

Another unique aspect of this race is the boat itself, designed more like a racecar than a yacht. Craig Loomes Design designed the trimaran around a needle-like wave piercing hull that allows Earthrace to slice through waves — it can be submerged under 21 feet of water while doing so — rather than sailing over them. Its twin “skis” enable it to surf down any that hit it from behind as well. It can travel faster in rough seas than any other vessel.Construction took 14 months and the vessel was launched on Feb. 26, 2006. It has a top speed of 46 mph and carries 3,000 gallons of fuel, giving it a range of about 2,800 miles. It was designed to withstand 50-foot waves and has been tested in 40-feet seas against 90 mph winds.

Of course, with a boat this fast and light comes a different kind of pollution: noise. It averages around 85 decibels at cruising speed, which means the crew has to wear earplugs continually. And then there’s the axe… if the boat capsizes, it won’t sink, but the only way out is to use an axe attached to the hull to chop their way out.

The crew plans to sail almost continually for 65 days at between 23 to 29 mph. The current record for circumnavigating the globe is 74 days and 20 hours and 58 minutes, set in 1998 by the British vessel Cable and Wireless Adventurer.

[EDIT: The Earthrace set out a month later than planned; it didn’t leave port until April 27, 2008.]

Earthrace route

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Related Links:
Earthrace homepage
Wired: “Around the world in a boat fueled by human fat”
UK Guardian: “Racing around the world on biofuel”
UK Telegraph: “Earthrace: the green machine”

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Comments»

1. lavenderbay - March 27, 2008

Now, if only they can make the biofuel from dog-strangling vine, garlic mustard, and evergreen blackberries.

2. Sharon - July 1, 2008

Alternative fuel source for the fossil fuel by making
use of the oil extracted from jatropha curcas seeds, which is then converted into biodiesel for industrial and automotive uses.


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