Handful of microplastics

Hydrogen submarine could collect microplastics as it cruises

Image credit: Dreamstime

A company developing a zero-emission submarine, which could transport cargo between Glasgow and Belfast, has been awarded funding by the UK government to develop its concept.

The autonomous vessel, nicknamed Esmeralda01, is designed to be “net positive” by running on hybrid green hydrogen and battery power and collecting microplastics as it cruises between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Esmeralda01 is equipped with a three-phase microplastics filtration system. Its developer, Oceanways, is preparing the submarine for its first sea trial.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is supporting its development as part of a £23m round of green maritime R&D funding. It said a fleet of the submarines could secure 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions in its first year of operation with an overall mission to reduce 300 million tonnes of CO2 as the fleet grows.

Dhruv Boruah, founder and CEO of Oceanways, said: “Time is running out and it is imperative we don’t settle for 1 per cent more efficiency in an existing system, but instead radically rethink to create innovative solutions.

“It’s not just #JetZero. Oceanways has assembled a world-class team to pioneer #SubZero by creating the new market of net-positive underwater transport systems with zero-emission cargo submarines as an innovative tool to decarbonise shipping and clean up our ocean.”

The 55 projects to receive green maritime R&D funding were announced today by the transport secretary Grant Shapps, as part of London International Shipping Week. The Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition aims to support the development of technology to help reach the government’s target of zero-emission ships operating commercially by 2025.

“As a proud island nation built on our maritime prowess, it is only right that we lead by example when it comes to decarbonising the sector and building back greener,” said Shapps. “The projects announced today showcase the best of British innovation, revolutionising existing technology and infrastructure to slash emissions, create jobs, and get us another step closer to our decarbonisation targets.”

Another project aims to develop electric boat charging points connected to offshore wind turbines. These would operate by semi-automated control like electric car chargers, with nearby sailors plugging in to charge their vessel, then sailing away. The DfT said using renewable energy in this manner could be equivalent to removing 62,000 cars from the roads.

Meanwhile, the UK’s greenest cruise terminal, the Horizon Cruise Terminal, is opening at the Port of Southampton this week. The terminal uses solar panel roofing and offers green plug-in charging for ships.

Maritime minister Robert Courts said: “Building state-of-the-art green infrastructure at cruise terminals helps us move towards cleaner cruising, creating more spaces for these ships to dock and putting us on track to hit net-zero by 2050.”

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