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Water jet cutting for safely dismantling ships and bombs

Water jet cutting rarely makes the major news outlets.

As experts in the technology we spot references in trade magazines and what might be described as somewhat niche publications, but it is rare to head to a national newspaper and see water jet cutting.

Imagine our delight then at seeing the BBC run a major piece on its website looking at water jet cutting. Thousands of words!

The article looked at innovative and important uses for water jet cutting, how it is helping to dismantle huge ships and break them into their parts for recycling and also how it can safely diffuse bombs by cutting out the fuse.

The article paints a grim picture of how ships have typically been dismantled, stating:

“When mammoth vessels retire from years of ferrying cargo such as consumer goods, or oil, between continents, they often end up on a heavily polluted beach somewhere in South Asia. There, workers use fossil fuel-powered torches to painstakingly dismantle the ships. Protective clothing is scarce. Fatalities are not.”

Labour intensive

The current labour-intensive method is a cheap way of dismantling ships but it has no other benefit. Contaminants get washed into the sea and the work is dangerous to health and can lead to deaths.

However, the need to dismantle ships and tankers is only growing with estimates that there will be 15,000 to break up over the next decade, a doubling of the previous rate.

Water jet cutting may, as yet, be more expensive but it is safe and also very low carbon and much better for the environment, both locally and also for the global ecosystem.

The process of dismantling a ship through water jet cutting has been given an unofficial, rather touching name. De-Legoing.

At present, it remains a rare exception and there are even instances of ships being illegally sent to cheap yards that recycle the ship with little care for how they do it, or those doing it.

But, with the requirement for a solution only growing, innovative ideas exist.

One is that a levy be charged on purchasing a ship, this is redeemable if it is later recycled in a responsible manner.

Water jet cutting is likely to play a key role in decades to come.

Full BBC article here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66881323