Zero emission ferries will be built in Belfast under a consortium led by Artemis Technologies, offshoot of an America’s Cup racing team.
Back in 2017, Dr Iain Percy OBE – three time Olympic medallist, double Olympic champion. and veteran of four America’s Cup challenges – founded Artemis with a mission to see how advanced sailing technology could play a part in the decarbonization of the maritime industry.
Zero emission ferries to be built in Belfast
The next year the company set up a facility in Belfast Harbour in a bid to return commercial shipbuilding to a city where hundreds upon hundreds of boats had been built and one yard alone – Harland and Wollf of Titanic fame – at one time employed over 35,000 men.
Next up, in 2019, they announced a joint venture with Denmark’s Tuco Marine Group to produce the world’s first zero emissions workboat, matching up their eFoiler electric propulsion system with a Tuco 11m carbon fibre hull.
Now, in 2020, they are getting ready to build the ferries of the future: high-speed, zero emission ferries capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.
Artemis led a 13 partner syndicate of established and young companies, academic institutions and local public bodies – in applying for and receiving a UK Government innovation grant of £33 million (€36M, $US40M).
With further investment from consortium partners, the total project funding will reach close to £60m over the next four years, creating an initial 125 research and development jobs, and leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the next 10 years.
Dr. Percy said ““For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet and we will now apply that knowledge to building the world’s most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries.”
“Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy, and produce zero emissions during operation.”
E-Foiler propulsion system could reduce drag by 90%
The eFoiler system developed by the team grew out of the foil technology Artemis Racing used in the America’s Cup, and integrates an ultra high density electric Motor Generator Unit with an autonomously controlled carbon fibre hydrofoil.
Hydrofoiling, where the boat ‘flies’ above the water is used on smaller electric boats, like the Candela 7 and the SeaBubbles water taxi, and has been used on fossil fuel ferries for decades. As far as we know, this is the first time an electric hydrofoiling system will be used on a boat this large.
Judging by the artist’s conception of the zero emission ferry, the E-Foiler will be used with a catamaran design and can drastically reduce the drag – by up to 90% – also reducing the energy required to move the boat through the water. The eFoiler Propulsion System is also available as a stand-alone product for retrofitting of other boats and ships.
Also developing autonomous sailing vessel
In addition to the zero emission ferries, Artemis is developing a 45-metre autonomous sailing vessel (ASV). The ASV will be the world’s first hydro-foiling and self-regenerating commercial vessel, capable of operating without the consumption of any fossil fuels.
The catamaran is also based on the Artemis America’s Cup design, and will travel at a top speed of 50 knots. It can cruise along at speeds of up to 30 knots even when there is zero wind due to innovative energy recovery systems developed in Formula 1.
The ASV will have wide ranging applications across environmental monitoring, maritime search and rescue, humanitarian relief, security and surveillance, and seabed mapping.
The members of the syndicate/consortium for the zero emission ferries are: Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.