Washington, March 14 : A 69 year old Japanese man is contemplating sailing 4,350 miles from Hawaii to Japan on board an innovative wave powered boat.
Ken-ichi Horie may not only earn a Guinness record by completing this expedition, but also prove the viability of wave powered propulsion.
His boat, the Suntory Mermaid II, has two fins mounted beneath the bow that turn wave energy into thrust. The fins move up and down with the waves, and use them to generate "kicks" that propel the boat forward.
All the radios and electrical equipment installed in the boat are solar powered.
Given that the fins can garner a top speed of 5 knots only, Horie may take three months to complete his trip, expected to begin this month.
"Waves are a negative factor for a ship-they slow it down. But the Suntory can transform wave energy into propulsive power regardless of where the wave comes from," the Environmental News Network quoted Yutaka Terao, an engineering professor at Tokai University in Japan who designed the boat's propulsion system, as saying.
Horie is just not concerned about the slow speed of his boat because he believes that his voyage may prove that wave propulsion can work under real-world conditions, and thus open up the technology for commercial applications such as cargo shipping.
"Oil is a limited power source, but there is no limit to waves," he says.
Earlier, in 1993, Horie pedalled a boat 4,660 miles from Hawaii to Okinawa, setting a world record for the longest distance travelled by a pedal-powered boat.