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Transportation Technology

Radical New Icebreaker Will Travel Through the Ice Sideways 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-sideways dept.
cylonlover writes "Given that icebreakers clear a path for other ships by traveling through the ice head-on (or sometimes butt-on), then in order for one of them to clear a wider path, it would have to be wider and thus larger overall ... right? Well, Finland's Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is taking a different, more efficient approach. It's in the process of building an asymmetric-hulled icebreaker that can increase its frontal area, by making its way through the ice at an angle of up to 30 degrees."
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Radical New Icebreaker Will Travel Through the Ice Sideways

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  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:17PM (#44479301)

    ... you could call that:

    *puts on sunglasses*

    'lateral thinking'

  • by Trepidity (597) <<gro.hsikcah> <ta> <todhsals-muiriled>> on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:18PM (#44479321)

    Fwiw, the Finns have been researching this idea for a while now; interesting to see it actually being built. Here is a 1999 paper [pdf] [akerarctic.com] from one of Arctech Helsinki's parent companies studying the feasibility of such a design, which has some good information on the details.

  • So, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by virgnarus (1949790) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:19PM (#44479323)
    Nautical drifting?
  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:20PM (#44479339) Journal

    Just warm up the planet and then we won't have to worry about this "ice" stuff.

    • Well, I'm not a scientist in this field of study, but I wouldn't be surprised if these helped that process along.

      Break ice into smaller pieces (e.g. cut huge swaths of it in half and so on), and it'll melt faster.

      Same way you cut a stick of butter into smaller pieces before melting it down when cooking

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, I'm not a scientist in this field of study, . . .

        Obviously not.

        Break ice into smaller pieces (e.g. cut huge swaths of it in half and so on), and it'll melt faster.

        Maybe, but this is very thin sea ice (50-100 cm), which melts annually anyway. It's not like they're going into the icecaps with this thing.

        As for the parent of your post, warming up the planet has increased the demand for ice breakers, because more places can now be reached. We might even finally see a northwest passage, but it will need an icebreaker to keep it open as long as possible. Russia has lots of icebreakers for reaching its northern border. Some of them are nuclear powered!

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Let's suppose you have a piece of sea ice 1 km square by 1 m thick. It has a surface area of 2.004 km^2. Now if you cut it in half short-wise, it will have a surface area of 2.006 km^2. Actually, if you cut a 10 m wide path instead, you end up with a surface area of 1.986 km^2, while reducing the volume by only 1% (assuming the chunks from the path just disappear...), so an increase of surface area to volume ratio of 0.3%. This number gets much smaller for a wider and/or thinner sheet of ice. You could
    • Just warm up the planet and then we won't have to worry about this "ice" stuff.

      Already happening, but if anyone is really keen to swim in the lake that now exists on the North Pole they can charter a helicopter in Iqaluit rather than require an icebreaker. Coming soon to the Far North: cruise ships.

      • by barlevg (2111272)
        The north pole lake first of all is not a lake (it's a "melt pond") and second of all is not thought to be caused by global warming--it's just what happens when summer sun shines down on arctic ice. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/29/us-northpole-lake-idUSBRE96S16620130729 [reuters.com]
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          While the z0mg!panic! was stupid, there is an issue here. Meltwater ponds reflect less sunlight than bare ice, so warm the ice underneath much quicker (until it cracks and the pond drains out.) The problem is that in single-year ice, the meltwater ponds form shallow and wide on the smooth surface, maximising their surface area. Multi-year ice is gnarled and shattered and jagged, so melt-water tends to collect in crevices (or even crevasses) with a much smaller area in the sun. With the recent losses of mult

          • Re:Waste of Time (Score:4, Informative)

            by starless (60879) on Monday August 05, 2013 @03:22PM (#44479889)

            While the z0mg!panic! was stupid, there is an issue here. Meltwater ponds reflect less sunlight than bare ice, so warm the ice underneath much quicker (until it cracks and the pond drains out.) [...]

            Refereed article on this can be found here:

            http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1963.html [nature.com]
            The surface albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone is a crucial component in the energy budget of the Arctic region1, 2. The treatment of sea-ice albedo has been identified as an important source of variability in the future sea-ice mass loss forecasts in coupled climate models3. There is a clear need to establish data sets of Arctic sea-ice albedo to study the changes based on observational data and to aid future modelling efforts. Here we present an analysis of observed changes in the mean albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone using a data set consisting of 28 years of homogenized satellite data4. Along with the albedo reduction resulting from the well-known loss of late-summer sea-ice cover5, 6, we show that the mean albedo of the remaining Arctic sea-ice zone is decreasing. The change per decade in the mean August sea-ice zone albedo is 0.029±0.011. All albedo trends, except for the sea-ice zone in May, are significant with a 99% confidence interval. Variations in mean sea-ice albedo can be explained using sea-ice concentration, surface air temperature and elapsed time from onset of melt as drivers.

      • by Keruo (771880)

        Coming soon to the Far North: cruise ships.

        I think you mean going? Largest cruise ships [wikipedia.org] are built in Finland but it's not where they sail at.

        • Turku? Far north? Prkl. Turku's a summer holiday destination it's so far south. Get your sunstroke drinking kossu at Ruisrock.
      • if anyone is really keen to swim in the lake that now exists on the North Pole

        Two things:

        1) it was only about a foot deep.

        2) it's already gone away.

    • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:47PM (#44479597)

      Already done. That's why these icebreakers are so useful.

      By eliminating much of the multi-year ice, all they have to worry about is the thin smooth single-year ice that forms each winter; the stuff that icebreakers like. That greatly increases the chance of a viable shipping lane being breakable along its full length each year.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Go home icebreaker, you're drunk.
  • Let's destroy ocean ice at an even FASTER rate!

    Let's all MARVEL at this new icebreaker technology.

    • Or you could think of it rationally.
      You have 1 Icebreaker taking one pass to do what it would take 3 to do.

      They are still going to cut as much ice, they need it for shipping. It will just take less time, less fuel, and less ships. Better than the alternative.

      • Yup, just like cotton gins. Increases efficiency, reduces the need for labor, all while giving the same output.
  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:38PM (#44479495)

    When I saw the "travelling sideways" thing I was hoping for a giant crab-shaped mecha.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In this article, 'Sideways' or 90 degrees, is apparently the same thing as 30 degrees.

    • by EvilSS (557649)
      Vehicles are considered to be going sideways when they are moving along a vector that is noticeably out of alignment with the vehicle center line. This is not restricted to vehicles traveling at 90 degrees to their center line.
      • by 2gravey (959785)
        Call me crazy, but I would think a vehicle would have to be traveling at an angle greater than 45 degrees off its center-line to call its direction of travel sideways as anything less than that would be mostly forward. I especially liked how the article provided a picture suggesting 90 degree travel, despite describing 30 degrees as the maximum.
        • by Agent0013 (828350)
          Actually the ship's three propulsion pods can point in any direction. So, yes it can go at 90 degree or 180 or whatever direction it wants to. When breaking ice it is designed for 30 degree travel, but it is capable of any direction just like omni-wheels.
        • by EvilSS (557649)
          OK, you're crazy.

          Try this. Draw a picture of a boat. Now grab a protractor and draw a line from the center of your boat that is 30 degrees from the center line. That is the direction of travel. At this point your boat is sliding sideways through the water.

          You can also try it out with a mouse (computer or mammal). If you're really adventurous try it in a moving car and let me know if you felt like you were sideways or forward :)
  • by Teun (17872) on Monday August 05, 2013 @02:48PM (#44479599) Homepage
    Conventional ice breaking is done by the weight of the ship, the shape of the bow allows them to slide on top of it and once far enough the ice underneath will break, doing this sideways will be rather nasty for the stomach of the sailors on board.

    Providing they have the horsepower it can be done in a relatively smooth way or they need to regularly back up for a new run onto the ice.

    The ship in the article is 'only' fit for up to 60 cm. in sideways and 100 cm. of ice in regular mode, not exactly a lot of obstruction when you consider the typical ice sheet north of Russia is between 1.2 and 2.5 m. thick.

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-09/russia-building-worlds-largest-nuclear-powered-icebreaker [popsci.com]

    • by pijokela (462279) on Monday August 05, 2013 @03:18PM (#44479851)

      It's meant for the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg. A PDF report at http://www.baltice.org/ [baltice.org] shows that the thickest ice during 2011-2012 winter was 50cm.

      It's true that as Russia is more and more interested in exploiting the arctic sea, they will need bigger things.

    • by dan828 (753380) on Monday August 05, 2013 @03:57PM (#44480205)
      You've never been for a ride on a "conventional" icebreaker, have you? The things are basically footballs(american) in the water. As a younger man, I was a deckhand on an ocean going icebreaker and did an arctic deployment. In rough seas we could take up to 90 degree rolls, though the biggest I saw was 67 degrees (fall in the north sea). Breaking pack ice in the arctic was like spending time on a randomly shifting roller coaster that occasionally slammed on the breaks and had to back up for another go. If you think this piddly little 30 degree lateral crabbing while breaking thin sea ice is going to be very bad, you just have no idea.
    • The ship in the article is 'only' fit for up to 60 cm. in sideways and 100 cm. of ice in regular mode, not exactly a lot of obstruction when you consider the typical ice sheet north of Russia is between 1.2 and 2.5 m. thick.

      Ice breakers don't wait for the ice to accumulate to start breaking. Plus, this is meant for harbors and shipping routes, not pack ice.

    • Conventional ice breaking is done by the weight of the ship, the shape of the bow allows them to slide on top of it and once far enough the ice underneath will break, doing this sideways will be rather nasty for the stomach of the sailors on board.

      Providing they have the horsepower it can be done in a relatively smooth way or they need to regularly back up for a new run onto the ice.

      The ship in the article is 'only' fit for up to 60 cm. in sideways and 100 cm. of ice in regular mode, not exactly a lot of obstruction when you consider the typical ice sheet north of Russia is between 1.2 and 2.5 m. thick.

      http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-09/russia-building-worlds-largest-nuclear-powered-icebreaker [popsci.com]

      If you look at the map, the seas where finnish ice breakers roam are not it north russia (itä-meri and perämeri in finnish). As far as i know there is no ship routes trough the northern arctic sea. If there would be, it would cut ship travel times from certain parts of the world by a considerable margin, if they would want to deliver cargo to northern or central europe. Cargo from russia to norway, sweden and finland are mainly transported by railway or truck as there is no sea in between. The m

      • by Trepidity (597)

        As far as i know there is no ship routes trough the northern arctic sea.

        Not all the way across it from Europe to Asia, no. But the western portion of the Arctic near the Atlantic, i.e. far-northern Norway and far north-western Russia, is actually ice-free year round. That's why Murmansk [openstreetmap.org] is strategically important to Russia, as an ice-free port where access to the sea isn't controlled by the narrow straights between Sweden and Denmark.

  • Given the design of most ships, would it not make more sense to align them sideways/perpendicular to their travel path to clear the way?

    I mean we're at LEAST looking at a 1:3 ratio of dimensions, here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For the same reason you don't use a knife sideways. ;)

  • A little bit late for this, don't you think? Even the ice caps are melting at a "crazy" rate.

  • Pretty soon the Arctic will be ice free round the year and ice breakers will be scrapped and may be one or two saved as curiosities in museums.
  • Ah, I can see it now! Start buying futures in the new line of Party Boats: "Now that we've broken the ice, what's your name?"

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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