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Carbon-Free Shipping Sets Sail

Vermont bargeA sail-powered barge launched last week on Lake Champlain in Vermont that backers hope could spur a new generation of carbon-neutral, sailboat shipping.

The 39-foot Ceres, which was built by volunteers at the Vermont Sail Project, is made of a plywood box hull covered in fiberglass and operates with no motorized assistance, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The project members and its nonprofit supporter, the Willowell Foundation, hope that such carbon-neutral boats could become a viable shipping method for moving freight from Vermont and upstate New York to customers on the Hudson River and in New York City.

The barge is currently undergoing testing on Lake Champlain. If all goes to plan, the barge will make its full maiden voyage down the Hudson to New York City delivering pre-ordered produce to customers down river.

However, there is no refrigerator on board, so the boat will have to carry produce that can withstand the roughly 10-day trip without spoiling. Grains, potatoes, onions and similar items will make the journey, the paper reports.

In July, Rolls Royce announced that it is developing a hybrid cargo vessel — with a 180-foot sail augmented by bio-methane engines — that can carry 4,500 tons while curbing emissions. Rolls Royce will provide a back-up power-plant based on its Bergen model that’s able to burn methane produced from municipal waste by a unit of B9 Energy Group.

Other recent efforts to cut carbon emissions from shipping include Mærsk Line’s new fleet of energy efficient Triple-E class cargo ships. The first of these megaships, the 400 meter-long Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, is the largest ship in the world. It made its maiden call at Shanghai Yangshan port on July 19.

With design features for slower speeds and maximum efficiency, this vessel will emit 50 percent less CO2 per container moved than the current average on the Asia-Europe route, according to the company.

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