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New Technology Allows Tugboat to Drag an Iceberg: Solution to Clean Water Problem?

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We’re all a little worried about running out of fresh drinking water, and already 1.1. billion people in the world are living without it. Which is probably why French engineer Georges Mougin started brainstorming ways to fix that.

Enter a tugboat that tows icebergs across the ocean and straight to those who need it most. Currently, billions of gallons of potential freshwater are lost when icebergs in Greenland melt off and into the ocean, rendering them useless.

The engineer used 3-D technology, satellite data, and oceanic forecasting to create the elaborate method of hauling icebergs using a “skirt”—aka a floating geotextile belt made with a series of rigid poles— and a tugboat.

But there are other factors that go into yanking an iceberg across the ocean, like the time of year. “There is a season for harvesting icebergs, a bit like tomatoes,” said Cédric Simard, a project director for the French design firm that helped create the 3-D imagery.

Size also comes into play and, much like Goldilocks, you’ll want a ‘berg that’s not too big and not too small but just right. “When you think of icebergs, if you just ask people in the street, they think of icebergs with the shape of mountains,” Simar explained. But those types, the craggy and misshapen ones, are the last you want when towing. Instead you should look out for a regular or table-shaped iceberg because it “truly facilitates towing,” said Simard, “and is known by glaciologists as the family of icebergs which presents the minimum risk of fracture.”

The idea might sound a little… crazy (right word?), but Mougin has been testing out theories on towing icebergs and utilizing their freshwater for decades. In the 1970s he was even recruited by prince Mohammad al-Faisal, to try to capture and transport icebergs. Obviously that didn’t pan out, but this latest venture might.

Could this be the idea that saves billions of people who are without clean water? What do you think?

Watch a video of the 3-D simulation below!

Via Fast Company

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