The Tyvek Ship. or: Why are ships rigid?

From Mckwiki

Jump to: navigation, search

The Tyvek Ship

A sausage casing, filled with cargo, and dragged across the ocean.

Today we design ship structure such that the two functions “hold the ship together” (strength) and “keep the water out” (water tightness) are performed simultaneously. This is a good application of the principle of multitasking, and it may be the best way to build a steel ship.

It has not always been the way ships are built, however. Eskimo kayaks, to use one example, separate the two functions, by using a non-tight structural framework, and then providing water tightness via a skin of non-structural (in the sense of global bending) seal skin. The result is a vessel that is somewhat flexible, but is very light weight – much lighter than attempts to duplicate the design in aluminum or fiberglass or other ‘integrated’ material.

What is we adopted this paradigm today? What if we built a ship as a space frame with a plastic, say “Tyvek” skin? OR we may continue this logic further: Why do we require ships to be rigid? Can we imagine a container ship where the containers are placed in a sort of giant watertight sock, and then towed across the ocean? Again, this sock would be perhaps a Tyvek bag, looking not unlike a giant sausage-casing full of cargo units.

The easiest cargo to start with would be a cargo that does not require structural integrity, and is lighter than water. Thus: Oil. However providing a double-hull of protection for an oil bag might be problematic, so perhaps a better beginning is a fresh-water tanker.

Personal tools