A Belfast Maritime Consortium led by Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, has won a £33 million ($40 million) UK Government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries in the city.
With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment will reach close to £60m ($75 million) over the next four years.
“For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise that knowledge, and along with our partners, apply it to build the world’s most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers,” Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE, head of Artemis Technologies, said.
The ferries will feature an electric hydrofoil propulsion system which promises to enable vessels to operate with up to 90% less energy, and produce zero emissions during operation.
A hydrofoil is a wing-like appendage under the hull of a vessel. As the vessel increases its speed the hydrofoils lift the hull up and out of the water, greatly reducing wetted area, resulting in an order of magnitude reduction in drag, the company explained on its website.
Named the eFoiler Propulsion System (eFoiler) is based on the integration of an ultra high density electric Motor Generator Unit into an autonomously controlled carbon fibre hydrofoil.
“As cities across the world seek ways to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion, the transformative vessels to be produced right here in Belfast, will have a global role to play in delivering the connected maritime transport system of the future,” Percy added.
“This investment from the UKRI Strength in Places Fund is a major endorsement of what we are trying to achieve, which we strongly believe will see Northern Ireland at the centre of the revolution in water transport.”
“As we continue to develop Belfast Harbour as a key economic hub and centre for innovation, we are pleased to partner with Artemis Technologies in this cutting-edge maritime design project which keeps our city firmly on the shipbuilding map. Ambitious collaborative partnerships such as this are key enablers to help unlock groundbreaking technical innovations and this project fully aligns to Belfast Harbour’s vision to become one of the world’s greenest and best regional ports,” Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour, said.
The 13 partner syndicate is a mix of established and young companies, including Belfast Harbour and Bombardier, academia and local public bodies.
These include 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.