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Artificial Icebergs

One more iceberg fantasy. Huge Antarctic icebergs are too big to be towed up north, smaller icebergs are problematic too. So why not make your own iceberg, with the perfect shape?
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An American company has recently patented a technique designed to wrap icebergs in huge plastic bags and tow them to places where they need the water.

The disadvantage with their idea is that you have to find the right iceberg with the right shape, and hope that it won't collapse and that it remains stable in the water. You also have to assemble the plastic on the spot, depending on the size and form of the berg. This is time consuming and expensive.

A better idea might be to make relatively "small" artificial icebergs out of giant icebergs, using proven technologies. All the bergs would have the same size, so that you can wrap them in prefacricated polymer bags. Here's my idea.

1. Locate a huge iceberg in the Antarctic. They're easy to find on satelite maps and are permanently tracked [link 1]. Many of these bergs are longer than 10 miles, containing billions of gallons of fresh water. The berg has to be located in a place where in winter, the sea ice sourrounds the iceberg (anywhere south of 60-65° south) and where in summer, the sea ice withdraws (anywhere north of 70° south). [link 2].

2. Install a few wind turbines on the berg. These bergs are so big and stable and flat, that they can easily be used as a platform. Antarctic winds are strong, and provide ample energy. The chances of the iceberg collapsing are very small. Many of these bergs remain intact for years.

3. Now locate your ad hoc iceberg factory a few hundred metres next to the berg, on the stable sea ice. And start building your own bergs, in the shape you want. This would be the perfect "ship like" shape, so that it gives least drag and resistance in the water when you tow them. (This would be a solution to an old problem; people have been thinking of how to carve bergs into the perfect shape).

4. You could make bergs the following way: scratch the surface of the big berg, using electric drills powered by the wind turbines, and pump these chips of ice into the enclosed space down on the sea ice. Spray a layer of chips, and water. It will freeze quickly. Then spray your next layer, and so on. You're working in layers of say one meter, and you have the plastic already folded out, so you're building the iceberg in a prefabricated plastic bag. This may take a few weeks.

5. While you're working in layers, embed the structural elements. You will be towing these bergs with giant kite-tugs [link 3], so you need to embed a rig. The steel rig will be frozen inside the berg, deep enough so that it will hold when you tow through warm waters.

6. When you're finished, just wait till the summer arrives and the sea-ice disappears. Your icebergs are now floating, and you can start transporting them.

7. The Southern Ocean has the strongest winds on the planet (except for high altitude winds like the jet stream). They're permanent westerlies. So you can easily use a sail technology if you want to tow them to South Africa or Australia only.

8. Launch your giant kite-tug, and sail your baby out of there.

9. After the water has been consumed, just reuse the bag and the rig.

(Moreover, the Madrid Protocol on mineral exploitation in the Antarctic, prohibiting exploration and commercial exploitation, explicitely excludes icebergs.)

I think desalination is easier, but this is more fun.

django, Jun 27 2004

Tracking icebergs (only those above 10 nautical miles in length) http://www.natice.n...s/iceberg/index.htm
Notice how long they remain in one piece and how huge they are. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Sea ice animations http://polar.wwb.no...orical.html#animate
Very neat info. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Kite Tugs - amazingly powerful http://www.dcss.org/speedsl/KiteTugs.html
In my next life, I want to become a kite tug pilot. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

SkySails, german company already operating http://web.archive.....info/index.php?L=1
They claim 50% reduction in fuel costs. Sounds great. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Big water baggies http://web.archive..../english/index.html
These baggies are towed at very very low speeds. A strong iceberg with a good shape could cruise much faster. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

For [DrCurry] http://www.cryonics.org/
As soon as possible after legal death, a member patient is prepared and cooled to a temperature where physical decay essentially stops, and is then maintained indefinitely in cryostasis. [django, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Ice Islands http://infranetlab....-islands-spray-ice/
Grounded icebergs created with spray hoses, used as oil drilling platforms [wbeaty, May 01 2010]

International Conference and Workshops http://www.lib.iast...rch/rgrp/0-4-4.html
Prince Mohamed Al-Faisal got interested in the topic and sponsored a conference in 1977. Interest later petered out. [jutta, Jul 17 2010]

US Patent 6,616,376 http://patft.uspto....9184&RS=REF/4299184
Is this the patent you're referring to, django? I don't think there's a company here, just an individual inventor. [jutta, Jul 17 2010]


       You really just how cold and nasty it is down there during the southern winter? But croissant anyway.
DrCurry, Jun 27 2004

       [DrCurry] yep, that may be a problem. I'm visualizing it right now [link].
django, Jun 27 2004

       Off-topic: Artificial icebergs were under consideration by Britain in the closing stages of WWII for use as unsinkable aircraft carriers. Apparently if you mix water with sawdust and freeze it, it is very resistant to being blown up by bombs.
spacemoggy, Jun 27 2004

       Yes, I've heard that they're thinking of using artificial ice platforms as offshore oil rigs. They would be much cheaper than steel rigs, and very strong as long as you operate in northern or southern locations. They can be easily repaired too. It's a fascinating subject.
django, Jun 27 2004

       How could this fine idea have so few annos? I especially like the use of kites.
bungston, Jul 31 2006

       Brilliant! Although it would destroy habitats etc...
Krumm, Feb 12 2009


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