Why Aluminium?

Welcome back everyone! Time for some more details about Whio II and its design.

One of the key areas of energy management is the knowledge that energy can change its form. The efficiency of this change is a strong indicator of the efficiency of the overall system.

In recent years, companies such as Windelo and Sunseeker have released new ‘Eco Yachts’ using novel materials to build the hull and insulation. While the energy contained in the building materials is a part of the consideration, a more rigorous approach is to look at the entire life cycle of what is being created. When we talk about a ‘life cycle’ we mean from the cradle to the grave; the impact of its creation, what it requires to maintain, and what it costs to dispose of at the end. This completes a circle of calculation about energy inputs, the impact on the environment, chemicals produced/released and so on.

If your goal is to make a low-emissions vessel, it does not make much sense to choose eco-friendly materials and then put in large engines which release a lot of carbon.

In our search for true eco-friendly materials, it is hard to look past aluminium. As you can see from the graph above, aluminium has the highest energy density of any known material and it is substantially higher than batteries or hydrogen conversion when thinking about harvesting renewable energy and storing it in some form. Once made, aluminium can be cut, welded, and reformed in so many ways, but the energy required to make it is kept safe and sound within the material for the foreseeable future. Our approach in thinking about the entire life cycle means that at the end of this vessel’s useful life, the aluminium will be worth almost as much as what is cost to build from and the hulls and main structure of the vessel are almost completely recyclable.

In the previous few blogs we’ve shared, we had some really amazing comments from people all over the world talking about CMG and its potential impact on the industry.

Particularly, we received many questions about why we are building our demonstration vessel from scratch, and not purchasing an existing yacht and refurbishing it; being more environmentally friendly.

Whio II will be only one part of the used aluminium’s life cycle.

It is very difficult to improve the life cycle and economics of recycling an older vessel. In our case we are trying to produce a stunning demonstration of CMG at work and we want to design Whio II to be the best a yacht can be, rather than shoehorning this new technology into an existing vessel. In an effort to ensure that this entire project has the lowest possible environmental impact, we need to be able to be able to select all the materials involved, and aluminium is our material of preference because when all is said and done, the hull can be scraped, repurposed and utilised once again, giving it a far longer life cycle than just our vessel. It’s ability to be repurposed give it the lowest overall impact of any alternative building material.