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Nuclear North North Passage

Forget the mythical North West passage, we go straight up North!
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(+2, -3)
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Modern shipping is mega huge super billion dollar business. Since the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, there's only one big obstacle left: the route over the Northern hemisphere, from Europe to East Asia.

The mythical attempts to find a North West Passage to the Far East proved that the passage existed, but nothing more. Today, only occasionally, nuclear icebreakers create a passage along the border of Russia and Siberia. Some adventurers crawl the labyrinths of Northern Canada.

My idea is to create and maintain a permanent passage, straight over the North Pole, year round, the shortest route.

This would cut shipping costs tremendously, since it makes the trajectory to China about 4500 miles shorter.


Build a few floating nuclear hubs every 500 miles or so, all over the trajectory (about 2500 miles from Svalbard Island to the Bering Straits -- [[see map in link 1]]). So you need about five of those.

Use the electricity they generate to heat a grid of simple metal heating cables. This grid needs to be not more than 200 metres wide or so. The temperature will be regulated according to the temperature of the water, climate and the thickness of the ice in the vicinity.

This operation requires a lot of permanent energy, but once you create an icefree corridor, the engine will keep on rolling quite smoothly. Moreover, you don't need to melt all the ice in the passage, just the bulk of it. It's only pack ice. No icebergs. And a thin layer of ice can easily be broken by normal ships.

Voilà, finally Europe can trade more smoothly with China, which is becoming the big player in the future.

django, Aug 19 2004

The Arctic http://www.lib.utex...ic_region_pol02.jpg
[django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Northwest Passage http://www.cnn.com/.../northwest.passage/
I've linked to this before. See the "Superior-Pacific Canal Route" idea for further discussion. [jurist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       I'm sure the tree hugging hippies would have a few negative remarks to make. Sounds pretty plausible though.   

       Is this to ease your Beijing Fried Duck Import/Export business?
Emi-chan, Aug 19 2004

       My Empire will soon Strike.
django, Aug 19 2004

       From what I've heard, we'll soon have a True North passage every summer, with the Arctic ice pack breaking up due to global warming.
DrCurry, Aug 19 2004

       Croissant. But: nuclear reactors create heat to begin with. Think you might be able to do away with some complexity if rather than generating electricity you just heat the water directly?
TerranFury, Aug 19 2004

       Earlier this year, various media reported that Canada's Coast Guard was claiming clear passage from the North Atlantic to the Beaufort Sea. Those reports hypothecated that continued global warming would ensure the future viability of those channels as major trade routes linking western Europe and Eastern Asia, without having to rely upon either the Suez or Panama canals. Nuclear power was not required. However, claims of Canadian sovereignty in these waters, North American security issues, and environmental/social concerns continue to be of such strategic importance and/or international sensitivity that very little recent discussion seems to be readily available on the major internet search engines. Curiously, a number of articles on the subject which were published in the early part of 2004 by reputable news sources and freely available on the internet seem to have been withdrawn from public access.
jurist, Aug 19 2004

       The north moving Atlantic current would squeeze the channel shut with ice flow. Besides, it's a robber baron idea. Yeah I figure a billion bucks enviro tax per rust bucket to let cheap trinkets go through Canada's sovereign waters.
mensmaximus, Jan 17 2005

       producing heat for heat's sake is wrong. There are thousands of processes which produce waste heat that could be harnessed for this passage.
Madai, Jan 17 2005

       Numbers please. How many gigawatts needed? Off the top of my head, I'd guess you'd need something like 100 watts per square meter of ocean, times 10e9 square metres, equals about 100 gigawatts, give or take two orders of magnitude. Probably more efficient to just keep a small fleet of those nuclear icebreakers running.....
Basepair, Feb 12 2005

       C'mon. All you need is giant magnifying glasses and antigravity...
omegatron, May 15 2005

       Why waste the money generating nuclear? Just hire some dirt-poor (ice-poor?) Eskimos to gather up all the whales, seals and polar bears in the Arctic and burn their carcasses for heat. Saves those dollars for important things like bigger bonuses for CEOs.
J Vander, Nov 12 2006


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