Is it possible to build a ship out of ice? © Dan Bright

Is it possible to build a ship out of ice?

Iceberg ahoy… No, wait! Make that ice ship ahoy. Warming seas may make building seafaring ice vessels impractical but not impossible.

It is possible to build a ship out of ice but warming seas make it a bad idea. There is no escaping the fact that ice melts. During WWII, a British project called Habakkuk aimed to build an aircraft carrier made of ice, partly to overcome steel and aluminium shortages.

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The team building the prototype in Canada strengthened ice by adding wood pulp to create pykrete, named after inventor Geoffrey Pyke. But they soon found that it needed an expensive refrigeration system, which required vast amounts of steel.

The project was abandoned but pykrete is used today to create ice domes and ice roads. It can be three times stronger than pure ice.

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Asked by: Helen Asquith, Great Yarmouth

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