If you’re running a ship that’s free of all the usual gunk on the exterior, does that make you a smooth operator?

What a week, right? Things are not back to normal but we’re all trying to figure it out, to move forward, to adjust, and to help each other out a little bit at a time.

And sometimes, a little bit can go a long way, as was shown by a recent piece in Fast Company.

It was about a new development that does something small to make a big impact on the carbon footprint of cargo ships.

These ships are big carbon emitters.

There are efforts to make ships that run on hydrogen fuel, but until those get going ships will likely continue to mostly using the usual fuel sources.

But there’s another big factor in these emissions, and it comes from something very small: algae and other tiny creatures which attach themselves to the hulls of ships.

This “biofilm,” as its called, can actually build up to the point that it makes it harder for ships to move through the water.

That means ships have to use more fuel to go about their business.

One possible solution is called the HullSkater, an underwater robot that can scour the hull with its motorized brush and wash all those microorganisms off.

The work can be done while the ship is loading, so it doesn’t require any extra time to use, and cleaning means fewer invasive species hitching rides from one place to another.

One estimate finds that a ship’s emissions will drop by 12.5 percent over five years.

HullSkater does sound sort of like the name a Transformer that worked underwater might have, doesn’t it?

A lot of festivals are on hold now, and this one is no exception, but we’re talking about it anyway: Schmeckfest in Freeman, South Dakota.

That means “festival of tasting” in German, and it was to kick off this weekend.

It will be back sometime down the road with lots of its famous sausages and a community musical production.

These underwater robots make cargo ship hulls so smooth that it reduces emissions (Fast Company)


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Photo by Pedro Szekely via Flickr/Creative Commons