KERALA

Zoomjet technology for marine transport

KOCHI NOV. 10. A recent technology transfer by an Israeli company to a Kerala-based entrepreneur is expected to make a new beginning in the marine transport scenario in India.

The new `marine zoomjet' technology makes use of a mixture of water and air capable of producing high potential energy for `bubbly jet propulsion'. The released energy can pull specially made boats at a speed of 180 km. per hour. The process is similar to the jet propulsion used for the movement of aeroplanes which use the costly aviation fuel, but the zoomjet technology does not need fuel.

The new generation zoomjet can ferry passengers from Kochi to Mangalore in just six hours, to Goa and Mumbai in 12 hours and 18 hours respectively. Multiple-hull boats have to be manufactured according to the required capacity. The advantage to the passenger is that the travel time is much less in comparison to train or bus.

The fare, to be decided only after the whole project becomes functional, is also expected to be on the lower side as no fuel is used for the operation. The trials for the new zoomjet technology will be done in the next three months on the Kerala coastal zone. A 17-seater special boat has already been made for the purpose. The propulsion engine is in the designing stage.

The technology has been transferred to Malkon Tech India, a Kochi-based company headed by Vijayan Pandala, a former technical official of Fisheries Department. The technology transfer was made by Technion Institute of Technology, Israel, working in partnership with Natron Corporation of Australia, at a ceremony held in Kochi recently.

The original research and development works on the new technology were done by scientists of Technion under Alon Gany of Aerospace Engineering. The present project is being looked after by a technical committee comprising a few reputed scientists like P. D. Joseph who had worked with the President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, according to Mr. Vijayan. After the technical run, the proposed marine route for the ferry would have to be approved by the Central Government.

Having had devised several technical projects during his career in Fisheries Department in Kerala and Goa, Mr. Vijayan is confident of emerging successful in the trial run.

He was the key man behind fitting the inboard marine diesel engines on traditional boats (`kettuvalloms'). The success of this experiment had led to a major swing in mechanisation of traditional craft. The length stretching machine (LSM) used for nylon nets was designed and made for the first time in India by him. He is in the process of raising venture capital and is hopeful of roping in a prospective business group for the multi-crore project.

Mr. Vijayan is confident that once the present project is over, the same technology can be utilised to generate electricity at much cheaper rates than the present.

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