Ice Privateers of the Arctic.
8 May 2013
Privateers only ! This is high risk .
Cheap water quickly .
1.Using old jet engines and cheap gas , a disc of pack ice 1 000 m in diameter and 30 m thick (worth about $100 million) can be easily and quickly transported using hovercraft principles .
2.Park the jet engines(at least five for redundancy) in the center of the disk . The exhaust points downward . The hot gases blow through the ice and form the hover layer underneath .
Like all hovercraft , the bigger the better .
3.Fracture the outer rim with small , separated explosive charges . Then tear along the dotted line .
3.Steering ? What is that ?
Vary pressures .
The whole mass is in a controlled fall . Expect about 40 km/h for mass of 100 million tons .
4.Melting : Surprisingly little . Like fuel use . The ratio of circumference(where heat and air escapes) to area is 2(pi)r/(pi)r^2 = 2/r . This 1/500 in metric units here .
At 40 km/h , 1000 km will take 25 hours .
5. I expect something like 1/9 would have melted , leaving about 90 million tonnes of water worth $90 m .
6.Fuel consumption : only the outer 10 meters of the ice disk is under continuous accellaration . This gives about the fuel consumption of 1.5 Boeing 747’s .
Cost would be about $1 million .
7.Cost of engines : Surprise ! These can be 3D printed See http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/11/additive-manufacturing .
But a privateer will just buy a lot of them at scrap prices . They need only last 30 hours . And many ensures redundancy . 5 Engines second hand engines should cost about $300 000
8. So , for an outlay of about $1,3 m , our privateer will make at least $90 m .
9.Ports : that will be needed beforehand .
10. Right-of-way : nobody is going to argue with a floating iceberg . Though notification would be nice .
11. Ice Letters of Marque
Water starved states will issue Ice Letters of Marque , especially since most of the pack ice on the planet is not in national territories .
“Cruising for prizes with a letter of marque was considered an honorable calling combining patriotism and profit,”
12.Real pirates will try to hijack these valuable cargoes . This will then involve outfits like "Blackriver", "Red River", "Blackthorne", and "Starkwood" in self-defence .
13. Reminiscent of Kuttner’s “Free Companies” of Venus . See http://www.sfsite.com/01b/fu120.htm
14. Of course , everything would be much simpler if they simply desalinated seawater . But would it be cheaper ?
Besides , it would not nearly be as much fun .
“Beware of low-flying icebergs !”