Belfast firm unveils designs for a fully electric ‘flying’ ferry
Image credit: Artemis
The EF-24 passenger vessel uses cutting-edge hydrofoil technology to lift the craft out of the water, enabling it to sail above the waves.
Maritime design company Artemis Technologies has described hydrofoil technology as a “game changer” for the global high-speed ferry market.
According to the company, the vessel's ability to raise the hull above the water dramatically cuts drag and provides estimated fuel savings of up to 85 per cent compared to conventional diesel-powered ferries, all while producing minimal wake and noise.
It will be 24 metres long and will be able to carry 150 passengers. The model has been designed with a top speed of 38 knots and a battery range of 115 nautical miles at a 25-knots cruise speed.
The "flying ferry" is expected to come into service in 2024, running in a pilot service between Belfast and the nearby city of Bangor.
Artemis Technologies, which is based in Belfast, is a spin-off from the Artemis Racing team that competed in the America’s Cup. Its founder and CEO, Dr Iain Percy, is a two-time Team GB Olympic sailing champion and four-time America’s Cup veteran.
Percy believes Artemis can be a world leader in delivering transport alternatives for congested cities.
“Many water-based cities around the world are grappling with the challenge of growing populations, congestion and pollution," he said. “The EF-24 Passenger can provide an immediate green transport solution that competes economically with road and rail in places like San Francisco, New York, Venice, Istanbul, Dubai and Singapore – anywhere around the globe that is seeking sustainable transport alternatives that balance the requirement for people to continue to move around with the need to reduce carbon emissions.
“Especially where new infrastructure is required like a new road or rail line, this ferry will not only be the cheapest, but also the fastest and least disruptive way to decarbonise transport networks in water-based cities”.
The ferry, which was formally launched to the global market on Monday, is among several zero-emission vessels being developed by Artemis Technologies as part of a £60m project to design and manufacture commercially-viable green transport solutions for the maritime industry.
Earlier this year, it launched what it hailed as a “world first” commercially-viable hydrofoil workboat, called The Pioneer, which can now be seen cruising above the waves on Belfast Lough outside Artemis’s manufacturing plant in the city’s docklands.
Artemis has partnered with Condor Ferries to operate the Belfast-Bangor pilot scheme. The goal is to develop fully-accessible ferries, with facilities on board including bike racks, cabin bag and overhead storage, baby-changing facilities and charging points.
The vessels will also feature a new high-speed collision avoidance system developed in conjunction with tech experts from Queen’s University Belfast.
“Green vessels like the EF-24 Passenger ferry perfectly provide that clean alternative to traditional diesel ferries," said John Napton, CEO of Condor Ferries. “We are thrilled to partner with Artemis Technologies and the Belfast Maritime Consortium to develop these vessels from concept to reality over the coming months, and look forward to being the first operator to set sail in 2024 with the world’s most advanced zero-emission foiling fast ferry.”
Artemis leads the Belfast Maritime Consortium, which includes manufacturers, universities and local councils in Northern Ireland. In 2020, the consortium secured £33m of UK government research and innovation funding, through the Strength in Places Fund, to support its work developing zero-emissions ferries.
“I recently visited Artemis’ headquarters. I am delighted that they are seizing the many opportunities that the development of green transport presents, and which the UK government is committed to supporting through our Net Zero Strategy," said Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.
“The development of such world-leading technology will ensure that Belfast remains at the forefront of maritime innovation while providing a boost to the local green economy.”
Last June, a battery-powered Danish ferry marked a new world record after demonstrating its capability by sailing 50 nautical miles (92km) without recharging, during a world conference on energy efficiency.
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