Will solar-powered ships save the planet from carbon dioxide emissions?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Gunter Pauli was surprised by the silence aboard the solar-powered MS Purima in the first days of its voyage.

In an interview with CNN, the Belgian businessman and economist said that “when you do not have a running engine, silence reigns. You are possessed by a real feeling of fear and resilience and you have a long time ahead to think about it.” noting that “a strong sense of how weak you are is engulfing you and it is better to use what you have carefully.”

At the heart of PURIMA’s philosophy is the efficient use of limited resources, a boat-centered environmental research concept that aims to show how sustainable technology can revolutionize the shipping industry.

More than 80% of global trade is transported by sea, but the maritime disrupts marine ecosystems, contributes to the acidification of the ocean, and causes carbon dioxide emissions that exceed the rate caused by aviation each year.

The ship departed from Osaka, Japan, on December 18, with a small crew on board and is expected to make dozens of stops on five continents. Purima will complete her three-year voyage before returning to Japan, in connection with World Expo 2025.

inspiration of artistic design

Credit: Audrey Meunier

The ship is a case study in sustainability. A small farm allows Paul to grow spirulina edible algae and fungi under the deck, while air bubble nets prevent overfishing by splitting the fish by weight, then releasing the breeding females, usually heavier due to the eggs they lay.

In addition to being powered primarily by solar panels, the spacecraft will soon be equipped with a filter that seizes and concentrates nanoplastic particles from seawater, and then converts them into hydrogen fuel.

Pauli believes the design features on the 118-foot-long and 79-foot-wide spacecraft are just as important as the production of green energy when it comes to promoting Purima’s environmental message.

The interiors of Burma’s two main rooms, the VIP suite and the main hall, were inspired by Russian matryoshka dolls, Japanese origami and Swiss Army knives.

With limited space on board, the dolls have inspired a range of easily sliding storage solutions and nests to save space. In parallel, origami ramps have been copied into various shelving units, seating areas and tables that can be folded inside walls like drawers and made invisible.

The suitability of the Swiss Army knife is reflected in the multi-purpose main hall, which can be converted into a classroom, showroom, library or dining room.

These three influencing factors may seem different at first, but Pauli explained how they are interrelated through the efficient and creative use of minimal materials. He added that he has received inspiration from each of them to “transform” Purima’s interior designs.

“The ship is a compact collection of functional tools in a room,” Pauly said, adding that it was also inspired by art.

Pauli believes that “a great artist is like a great antenna in society”, so he took the idea of ​​a “third heaven” from the famous painter and theorist Michelangelo Pistoletto to model his design, aiming at an approach to balanced between nature and technology. On the other hand, the 88-year-old Italian artist, speaking to CNN, believes that the ship offers the “potential” to turn his concept into reality.

“The climate crisis is the situation we are in after the development of our technology, but the more liberated we are, the more we progress and the more responsibility we have,” Pistoletto told CNN, noting that art is a interaction between autonomy and autonomy and responsibility ”.

Pistoletto’s work appears with works by other artists on board, which he describes as “the reintegration of technology with nature”.

Pauli explained that the driving force behind this project was this sense of responsibility to the environment and communities that bear the consequences of unsustainable practices. “We have done a lot of analytical studies dealing with environmental issues, and many of them often lead to paralysis. I knew everything we were doing was much less than what was required, but it was also far from what was possible. . “, he noted.

“We can not just improve what we have,” he said, adding, “You have to use your awareness and creativity to imagine the next thing, and the next thing can not be just an improvement. So I decided to start creating projects that were considered impossible ”.

Information mission

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Credit: Blue Odyssey of MS Porrima / Leaflet

Interactive education is at the heart of Purima’s three-year journey. At his many stops around the world, Pauli hopes to connect with individuals, academics and industry executives during his meetings to explain ship design to them. The main hall, when transformed into a classroom, will be used to introduce children to the innovations on board, hoping to inspire future generations.

But Pauli also hopes to make a difference in the near future, as he expects to spread some of the ship’s technology to the shipping sector. By 2024, Pauli said, its nanoplastic filters will be installed on 1,000 vessels in the Mediterranean to launch a large-scale cleaning campaign. He added that by 2025, Morocco will launch a fleet of vessels equipped with Baoli technology for bubble fishing.

“It’s not enough to innovate something. Once you do something unique, democratize it and make it available to everyone,” he concluded, adding that “there is a sense of empowerment when you realize that this technology can be used to help societies that depend on practices unstable.”

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