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Build a kite big enough for a ship, and you'll save fuel

One of the winning entries in the California Clean Tech Open, which offers $500,000 in prize money, is the KiteShip. It was designed by Dave Culp, a mechanical engineer who has obsessed about kites for years. The idea is to build a kite as big as 5,000 square meters to pull tanker ships when the wind is right. A helium body will launch the kit and keep it aloft while the wings fold out and fill up with wind to tow the vessel. Officials from KiteShip say fuel consumption can be cut up to 10 percent, or 2 million gallons a year. That's the same effect as replacing every car in California with a hybrid. By the way, Lexus donated the prize for this category.

[Source: Tekla S. Perry/IEEE Spectrum Online]

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