3D graphics prove feasibility of iceberg project

Using 3d modelling, Dassault Systèmes has undertaken an indepth study of the feasibility of towing a large iceberg from Greenland to the Canary Islands to provide fresh water.

Considering that icebergs are already towed for short distances to prevent them damaging Arctic oil platforms, the idea may not be as implausible as it must have seemed when Dr Georges Mougin and others first suggested it 40 years ago.

So good and realistic are the 3D graphics that these have been used as a the basis of a full length documentary about the project made by Jean-Michel Corillion, which is to be shown on mainstream German and French television and which was previewed at Dassault Système's just held 'European Customer Forum'.

In order to be feasible, the study showed, the initial iceberg should be fairly large – the candidate iceberg chosen weighed 7 million tonnes, and stable in the water, leading to choice of an iceberg that is table topped, or 'tabular' in the words of glaciologists. To reduce melting losses, it would need to be surrounded by a geotextile drop down skirt, and to avoid problems resulting from fracture, it would need to be towed using a very large Tuna fishing net. To be economical, only a single, commercial tug would be used with a modeled towing force of 130 tonf, to keep it in a natural drift current with an average speed of 1.5km/h. Energy consumption might be reduced by use of additional 'SkySails' developed to assist oil tankers and also already in service, although the possible effect of these was not included in the modeling calculations. Even allowing for storms, which were modeled in detail, it should complete the 3,500km voyage in 141 days, with more than 4 million tonnes of the ice still intact, for a total fuel consumption of about 4,000 tonnes.

Russian nuclear powered icebreakers have been constructed that have more than six times the driving power of the French MV Argonaute used as the basis of the simulation, and could potentially deliver larger icebergs, losing a smaller proportion of water to melting on the way, without producing any greenhouse gases.

80% of fresh water currently used in the Canary Islands is produced by expensive to run desalination plants. The tools used for the modeling, are all standard products now offered by Dassault Systèmes commercially. More about these and others will be revealed in the January 2011 edition of 'Eureka'.

Tom Shelley

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Do you have any comments about this article?
I am a scinece-Journalist looking urgently (!) for grafics/photos etc. concerning the iceberg transporation project.
Could you please send as soon as possible all available grafics/photos etc.
Thank you very much in advance.
Yours sincerely

Joseph Scheppach

Gong - Wissen
Gong Verlag GmbH
Münchner Straße 101/09
85737 Ismaning
Tel. 089/27270 - 7458
mobil: 0178-5122394
E-Mail: freier_mitarb_02@gong-redaktion.de

Comment Joseph Scheppach, 19/12/2010
Hi Tom, many thanks for referencing 3D Perspectives as a source. As we'll be adding other stories to the simulation category, if you'd like people to go to the iceberg article please provide this link: http://perspectives.3ds.com/environment/turning-icebergs-into-drinking-water/

We'll be adding more articles about this story in the coming weeks.

best, kate

Comment , 26/11/2010

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