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Q: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight ( No Answer,   4 Comments )
Subject: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight
Category: Science > Physics
Asked by: nzarnie-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 22 Mar 2006 14:02 PST
Expires: 21 Apr 2006 15:02 PDT
Question ID: 710690
I've heard that seafreight is more energy efficient than roadfreight. 
I'm just wondering - by how much?  Can somebody find me a comparitive
study between shipping a weight of cargo per distance by both
seafreight and roadfreight (US truck).

And by energy efficient, I probably mean by the BTU rating of the fuel
used - being Bunker @ approx 150.000 BTU/gallon and On-highway Diesel
@ approx 139,000 BTU/gallon.

My business is bottled water and I'm curious to know the efficiency of
importing bottled water from New Zealand vs trucking from a domestic
source on the other side of the country.  So no, it's not a homework

Clarification of Question by nzarnie-ga on 22 Mar 2006 16:08 PST
I've found this document that outlines ton-miles for
container-on-barge shipping.  Not quite what I'm looking for, but
something like this would answer my question...Aaron

Clarification of Question by nzarnie-ga on 22 Mar 2006 16:09 PST
And that link would be...

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 22 Mar 2006 22:37 PST
Sea transport is the most fuel efficient of the three transport modes
 (train truck sea)

 Does that mean it makes sense to ship water, from continent to continent,
 or even from one end of the country to another?

"Assume it takes $2000 to get our water from Suva to Long Beach and
other $3000 from Long Beach to Cambridge. That 8,000 mile journey
costs about $0.21 per bottle, about a fifth of the water's retail
price. In other words, while it's probably the major component of
product cost, outpacing the cost of packaging and labor, it's quite
possible to make a profit shipping water from Fiji to Boston..."
"A double bottom line analysis - considering environmental as well as
financial implications - raises some disturbing questions. With
shrinking oil supplies and oil at $50+ a barrel, how long can we
sustain a world where it's economically feasible to ship drinking
water 8,000 miles?"

Should we not ask first if it susteinable, and sensible thing to do,
 to ship water around the planet?

Clarification of Question by nzarnie-ga on 23 Mar 2006 04:34 PST
Hi Hedgie, that sure is a can of worms I won?t touch.

I see what you?re saying, but I feel you neglect to see that we?re not
talking about a commodity.  If it were solely about a commodity, then
we?d all be drinking from the tap.

My particular water is sold as an epicurean water.  It is not sold in
plastic and you will never see it on the shelf of a supermarket ? it
will never be a commodity product.

There are several things that do rile me about the Water Industry, but
they're better left to an appropriate forum.


Request for Question Clarification by vik-ga on 07 Apr 2006 15:51 PDT
Are you assuming freight being shipped in twenty-tonne-equivalent
(TEU) containers on both sea and road?

Vik :v)
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight
From: hardtofindbooks-ga on 22 Mar 2006 21:08 PST
Hi nzarnie

there are some Oz figures comparing Road, Rail and Sea freight here;
Subject: Re: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight
From: nzarnie-ga on 23 Mar 2006 04:36 PST
Thank you hardtofindbooks - I gave it a quick glance and found some
insightful information.  I'll go through it in detail tomorrow. 
Thanks again...Aaron
Subject: Re: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight
From: marcusl-ga on 04 Apr 2006 14:44 PDT
18 wheel Semi-truck/trailers with chemical tanks generally carry a
50,000 pound liquid load. A similar weight in bottles of water for a
traditional bed. You can figure about 7 miles per gallon for a diesel
truck like this on average. Can be anywhere between about 5 and 9,
depending. Let's say 2500 miles for cross country journey, at 7 miles
per gallon, that's 357 gallons of diesel, which is 49.6(10^6) BTUs
total to ship 50,000 pounds, for 993 BTUs/pound shipping over 2500

Data for cargo ships was harder to come by, but it seems to be capable
of shipping 1 ton of cargo 500 miles on gallon of gas, 500
ton-miles/gallon effieciency rating. Let's say 10,000 miles from fiji,
that's 20 gallons per ton. shipping 25 tons to make it the same as the
truck comparison, that's 500 gallons. 150,000 BTU/gallon for the
shipping fuel gives 75(10^6)BTUs to ship 50,000 pounds. That's 1500
BTUs/pound for shipping 10,000 miles.

So to shipping something by sea 4 times farther than by land costs
less than twice as much. so for the same unit distance going by sea is
significantly more efficient in terms of energy usage, at least doubly

Appreciate rating, I just started =)
Subject: Re: Energy Efficiency of Seafreight vs. Roadfreight
From: nzarnie-ga on 26 May 2006 18:07 PDT
Thanks Marcus, that's great.  I've only just seen your reply, as I had
no notification and I hadn't logged on until just now.  Sorry for the
late reply.

I appreciate the effort and answer, which is what I was after.

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