Jason FordNews Editor

Science fiction is slowly becoming fact in the fields of weapons and robotics but Briefing begins with nautically themed event.

Taking place in London on the 23rd and 24th is the 5th Green Shipping Summit, which will look at how the maritime sector is exploring technologies and strategies to manage and reduce emissions and pollution.

According to the organizers, ship owners and managers are faced with national, regional and international legislations for greater sustainability in their shipping operations.

The industry is working to meet these objectives and one conference topic will examine the cost versus benefits of implementing green technologies.

One such innovation came to The Engineer’s attention last week in the form of fluoropolymer foul release technology, which Prof James Corbettʼs Energy and Environmental Research Associates believes can reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) and other emissions by an average of nine per cent when applied to a ship’s hull.

A report from Energy and Environmental Research Associates analysed the latest fuel consumption data of three vessel types when coated with fluoropolymer foul release technology.

They were Prem Divya, a single engine 21,126HP tanker; Ikuna, a twin engine 3,400HP bulker; and five identical post panamax container vessels, three of which were coated with TBT free polishing anti-foulings and two with Fluoropolymer Foul Release technology.

According to the report, fuel consumption was reduced by 10 per cent on the Prem Divya, 22 per cent on the Ikuna and by 5 per cent in the container vessels (based on all five ships carrying a comparable load).

If similar fuel efficiency results were realised by all tanker and bulk cargo vessels within the commercial fleet then annual fuel oil consumption could be reduced by approximately 16 million metric tons (MMT) per year, fuel expenditures could be reduced by $4.4bn to $8.8bn per year, and nearly 49 million MMT of CO2 emissions could be avoided annually. Click here for the full report.

From shipping to weapons and the sinister sounding Directed Energy Weapons conference that takes place in London between the 22 and 24 this week.

Held at CCT Smithfield, the organizers believe directed energy will prove to be one of the key issues of the twenty-first century,

The organizers go on to say that the agenda will address key developments in the field of High Energy Laser (HEL), High Powered Microwaves (HPM) and less-than-lethal weaponry.

The conference will hear about developments from Eastern Europe with a briefing from the Russian Academy of Sciences on the latest High Power Microwave electronics research being conducted in Russia.

In the USA Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have been working with their military customer since 1996 to develop the Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft  - a modified Boeing 747-400F - designed to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight.

From laser weapons to humanoid robots and news that Robonaut 2 will be one of the crew on the final NASA Discovery mission before the shuttle fleet is retired.

NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-133 to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for February 24. Robonaut 2 - developed by NASA and General Motors - will become a permanent resident of the ISS so that engineers can monitor how the 21-stone robot operates in weightlessness.

A report last week from Associated Press suggests that the ISS crew and Robonaut 2 might be joined by a Japanese humanoid companion.

According to AP, Japan’s space agency is considering putting a talking humanoid robot on the ISS in 2013 to watch the mission while astronauts are asleep, monitor their health and stress levels and communicate to Earth through Twitter.

Give it time and sci-fi favourites Ash and Bishop (from Alien and Aliens respectively) will become science fact.