Tuesday 16 July 2013

Where the sun never shines

Very often these days lectures on Nature almost magnetically get drawn into question on climate, especially after having visited Greenland that currently seems to experience many changes. Questions are arising about a po

ssible future of these areas, sceptical thoughts come up as to the sustainability of tourism or our ecological footprint. The climate development definitely is on everybody's mind, the awareness has risen significantly in the last few years. We can only encourage this mindful way of looking at our own traces, it is the greatest way of showing respect for Nature's wonders. Some might even express the concern that our mere presence in these sensitive waters is causing substantial harm to the unique nature. A valuable worry - so let's address it, here and now!
Often it is emphasised that awareness is best achieved through knowledge, so going to places is the straightest way to make you ambassadors of fragile places; but this can only be half the comfort, hasn't it just a bit of the ring of an excuse to it? Why not come up with hard facts about our ship? - Maybe it is not half as bad as one thinks.

In order to find out about that we took the liberty of venturing deep down into the bowels of our ship together with our Chief Engineer. These places are usually out of bounds for us, as there is a lot of sharp edges, moving parts and high voltage everywhere. However, we want to find out things, so down we go. But whoever expected giant pistons swooshing through the oily air, a labyrinth of greasy pipes through an hellish inferno of noise, got slightly surprised. A modern, rather neat hall, brightly lit, and not a moving part in sight.
Well, FRAM is a  modern ship, a VERY modern ship. The concept of propulsion is entirely different from ancient vessels - we are basically driving with electric propellers...
Those are fed by our on-board power plant, consisting of four MAK diesel generators, each delivering 1.912 kw, which are installed deep inside the ship, where they rattle away, clean, totally spill-free and isolated.
These generators are the source of ALL the ships power: Light, heating, water purification, cooking, pumps for shower, water, ballast, cooling, air condition, safety equipment, TV, computers - everything that needs electricity is powered by these four engines, propulsion is only a small part of it. The energy is created only in the necessary amount and directed straight to where needed. Power on demand in its purest form. To entertain all life support, all comfort, and provide moderate speed in good weather we need only one out of four, which is extra efficient.
Only when weather or schedule force us to, we roll on two generators, sometimes on three and only in the most extreme cases on all four engines.
All energy gets used several times; the surplus temperature from the exhaust will give its energy back into the system and heat the boiler water, seawater intakes are diverted to low-temperature cooling for the generator system; so all the energy goes where it is supposed to go. A turbo charger supplies high pressure which leads to more efficient combustion.
Nothing gets wasted.
What does this mean? Well, let's crunch some numbers! 
1) Last month's consumption was 74 l of Marine Diesel per nautical mile, which is average.
2) This trip is 2112 miles long, which is about 3911 km.
3) So we used 156.288 l all in all, which equals roughly 12.6 l/100km per person on board.

Again - this is for EVERYTHING, the whole stay on board, all the meals, the hotel part, the entertainment. And of course the transportation. If you take the transport alone, you end up with approx. 10l/100 km. Marine Diesel, which is even not heavier than car diesel.
So going with FRAM equals going with an economy car.
Would you have thought that?

Further excitement waited in the course of the day during the charity auction, this time featuring among others a beautiful pencil sketch by Miki Jacobsen. The public question-and-answer round with the ship's management team set a harmonic endpoint to a very interesting day.