We’ve been posting objects across the ocean for hundreds of years, and supply chains around the world rely heavily on diesel-powered megaships large enough to block single channels. How does carbon dioxide make this monolithic industry? FleetZero thinks it can do it with electric ships that make short hops all over the Pacific, while relying on small holes and a smart battery sharing system.
This problem is serious for anyone looking at gas emissions and the impact on climate and the oceans, as these giant ships carry a large portion of the world’s resources and emit billions of tons of carbon a year. There are many opportunities here, but like other legacy industries – and the ships themselves – it can be difficult to overcome inertia.
Steven Henderson and Mike Carter have grown up around the world and in the shipping world and, as engineers, understand the tremendous power and challenges that exist for anyone who wants to change the way the industry operates. Installing electricity in a consumer car is a cake trip compared to converting a 1,000-meter vessel with an engine-sized engine. And even if you can do it, how do you refill it – remove the twelve extended cables at the bottom of the crane every 100 miles?
It is a combination of serious problems on both the engineering and planning side, and the industry is paralyzed by the notion that deviating from traditional methods of pollution can be complex and costly. With the limits already being consumed by a variety of factors (including, now, rising gas costs), can they really take the cost of switching to further development? The increase in costs, which is unacceptable even for successful shippers, could put out regions and small and relatively small companies in the game altogether.
Fortunately, FleetZero believes that its solution will not only be clean, but also cheap to operate. The reasons for this start with the surprising fact (to lubbers) that a ship passing through the sea does not mean “straight” crossing the sea; from East Asia to the West Coast harbors, it is almost straight (and may be less dangerous) to follow the coast a major route. It looks very tall but because of the bend of the Earth it really isn’t – and you have the advantage of being close to the earth to give and or to bring things along the way.
When you do not have to travel a few thousand miles without interruption, a strong battery life begins to make great sense, and it is actually just a few pieces of the puzzle that come together to form a dynamic image.
Shipping units are standard
“The strangest economic situation is that the more ships you have, the more stops you have, the lower your costs. The important thing is to make the batteries change – this would not work on the ship you are connected to, ”said Henderson.
It’s contradictory – “I actually should have done this down with my daughter’s toy boats,” he added – but think about it this way. If a ship has enough battery life to travel a thousand miles, unless you travel that distance regularly, you have either too much or too little power. And if you have one large ship that has to change the batteries at each end, you have to double the number of active batteries around – a set that will be exchanged at each destination. But if you divide the same volume between several smaller vessels and add more stops, it suddenly takes a much smaller battery capacity to carry the same amount of cargo.
This handy drawing case can help make it clear:
There are a lot of traps in the middle, but the idea is clear enough: many smaller vessels use fewer batteries to move the same amount of cargo, assuming you have holes in the middle to make the network flexibility easier. Connecting vessels will not work in part because they carry a lot of batteries (resulting in low usage), but also because port charging may not be available.
As batteries are the most expensive part of a ship’s power supply, efficiency reduces the cost of purchasing cars by a significant amount. However this approach also requires charging the infrastructure in ports that they may not have. The FleetZero method, which seems obvious from the back, is to make the ship’s batteries as portable – by inserting them into vessels.
In case you think these will take up a lot of space, there are two answers to that. First, by removing large diesel engines and fuel tanks and ballast tanks, you open up a ton of space in any ship, sometimes doubling the cargo capacity. And secondly, you should take only as many as you need.
“We can install two batteries in a ship or two hundred, and change the list every time we load it,” said Henderson. “You loosen and load them up like any other load; is confiscated where it needs to go, storage or local resources. ”
There, they can use less electricity to charge these Leviathan batteries (as they call them) cheaply, or they can be used as temporary power to keep ships connected to them so that they do not have to operate their own diesel generators.
“Electrical booths are expensive – all of these ports are 50, 100 years old,” Henderson continued. “It was actually returned to us that it was cheaper to use our batteries to power other ships, so you don’t have to build a small channel on all the ships.”
This entry into the next paradox, fits this speculative ship network into the actual port port.
Carter explained that while spitting out the idea, it became clear that direct shooting at sea on a large 10,000-container vessel would require a battery of a few miles long – an engineering challenge – and while the ships were holding only a handful. of possible containers, objects or dozens of small vessels did not work. “There is a nice place for the size of the ship you want to use, and a ship of about three to four thousand containers,” he said. (Pictures in this article are about the proposed small exploration vessel.)
“Because they are so small – we are still talking about 700 meters – you can reach smaller ports,” Carter said. “There are all these ports, but no ships go into them. The ability to use small vessels provides [logistics companies] greater flexibility in supply chain than today. If we look at places like Portland or Everett, these are ports that most people do not know about, but they are not so congested, and we can bring goods closer to customers. ”
This also reinforces the idea of having harbors where it can drop off batteries and pick up enough new ones to take them to their destination, such as building a network of charging stations on highways. Local governments and port managers in these small areas, perhaps needless to say, are interested in the idea of bringing new and common businesses.
So: using portable, container-sized batteries makes long-distance cruises work, opening small holes, which can serve as charging channels without much investment, strengthening the network and lowering operating costs – making a powerful battery ship more competitive and probably cheaper than conventional vessels. .
Sounds promising, but it also sounds like a lot. Like any sensible startup, they start small, prove the concept, and then get ready to measure within three years. While making a demo Day for Y Combinator in the latest winter band, FleetZero has already raised $ 3.5M with a combination of angels and previous seed cycles. Investors include Sam Altman, John Doerr, David Rubenstein, David Adelman, Flexport, Y Combinator, My Climate Journey, and Joris Poort.
The first task was to build batteries, which they realized had a very different chemistry that you would find there, especially because of the great danger posed by the burning of these vessels. “We needed a battery that would not oxidize,” Henderson said, referring to a process that could make things like lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries extremely dangerous. They end up with lithium iron phosphate, which builds into both efficient and effective fire extinguishers.
Once solved, their next task is to load the pile on the back of a 300-meter ship and check the entire shipping and exchange process begins. Once that is completed and they have obtained the necessary regulatory permits, they will begin converting ships in 2025 – all of which after raising additional funds.
Fortunately with a lot of work, FleetZero can start commercial operations in the same year. Although they have a lot to do, they have the benefit of having everyone who is committed to it – delivering electricity on this scale can benefit ship owners, port operators, cargo companies, and finally but at least a planet.