By Jody McCutcheon
Not merely a status symbol, a yacht is a rugged yet luxurious thrill, a stoic enabler in that battle of wills between sailor and sea. Unfortunately, no matter how well the sailor fares, the sea loses a little more with each battle.
Yachting, and boating in general, contributes generously to the destruction of marine ecosystems. Ship anchors ruin coral reefs, while sewage, refuse, hydrocarbons (oil and gasoline), cleaning solvents and heavy metals from paint sully the water. Sinking pollutants can bury and destroy plants and other creatures on the ocean floor. Surfactants from soaps and detergents reduce a liquid’s surface tension, thus causing havoc for tiny marine life in the top few centimetres of water. And the more boats there are out on the water, the quicker the damage will accrue.
How, then, to make yachts less toxic? One step in the right direction is the Cronos eco-yacht concept, designed by European Institute of Design students Simone Madella and Lorenzo Berselli, and which received special mention in the “Young Professional” category of the 2012 Millennium Yacht Design Award (MYDA). The Cronos is wind- and solar-powered, and rather strikingly lined, inside and out, with compressed waste-bamboo paneling.
The yacht uses a windbelt to convert wind power to electricity, prototypes of which perform ten to thirty times more efficiently than micro-turbines. Transparent solar panels called solar glass exploit the sun’s energy. The Cronos also carries two electrical engines in a room whose walls are coated with Halite, which recovers as much as fifteen percent of the engine heat and recycles it into electricity. If that’s not enough, passengers can recline on eco-leather sofas.
Sleek, curvy and powerful, this vessel is eye-catching, to say the least. As long as potential owners stick with an eco-friendly mandate and ensure the upkeep of their boat is fully sustainable, employing only green cleaning products, the Cronos yacht is a concept that will surely float.