Transporting goods via a pipeline

[2010-12-06] environment, scitech
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Intriguing idea: Move food through a pipeline system instead of a fleet of trucks. According to Foodtubes, the company making the proposition, this will save 17 billion liters of fuel per year.
A better solution for food is to produce more of it locally, but transporting smaller goods efficiently is still desirable. From their presentation:
92% of the energy used to transport food and other supermarket goods, is spent on moving the vehicles; only 8% is used to move the goods. Foodtubes proposes scientific research of the concept that by replacing heavy road vehicles (HGVs) with lightweight cargo-capsules running in pipelines, directly to and from loading bays in shops, distribution, processing and food-production centres – i.e. by changing the existing logistics industries – that billions of litres of fuel and up to 18% of the CO2 added to the air each year, would be saved. No pipeline-capsule system on this scale exists. This project will create a new energy-efficient industry and reduce the cost of food and other goods.
Foodtubes claiming to save London from floods is overselling it a bit. They assume that their CO2 savings will reduce global warming which would lead to less flooding. Foodtubes might make transportation more democratic which usually fosters creativity and growth.

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