iD magazine - - Technology -

An ice­breaker’s bow is shaped so it slides on the ice in front of the ship and makes the ice break un­der its weight. The ship pushes the pieces of ice to one side. On one hand this cre­ates a clear pas­sage be­hind the ship, and it also serves to pro­tect the ves­sel’s rud­der and pro­pel­ler. The strong­est ice­break­ers achieve 70,000 horsepower— about as much as a medium-size air­craft car­rier, which means they can break through 15-foot-thick ice. Other types of ves­sels em­ploy hot steam to melt the ice, or they force com­pressed air un­der the ice floe, thereby mak­ing it rise. Also, rapidly pump­ing the bal­last wa­ter back and forth through the ship gen­er­ates a pitch­ing move­ment that brings more power to bear on the ice. Each of th­ese mod­ern North Pole con­querors can cost up to $1 bil­lion.

WEIGHTLIFTER The heav­ier the ship, the bet­ter it’s able to break the ice: Bal­last wa­ter tanks pro­vide the nec­es­sary mass and a draft of around 36 feet. ICE RE­CON­NAIS­SANCE As in an air­plane, all im­por­tant tech­ni­cal sys­tems are found in more than one plac

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