£33m Scheme to Build Zero-emission Ferries in Belfast gets the Go-ahead

A Belfast Maritime Consortium led by Artemis Technologies has won a £33 million UK Government innovation grant to develop zero-emission ferries in the city, that will revolutionise the future of maritime transport. With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment 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.

The 13 partner syndicate – which is a mix of established and young companies, including Belfast Harbour and Bombardier, academia and local public bodies – is the only Northern Irish or maritime recipient of the UK Research and Innovation flagship Strength in Places Fund.

The growing global desire to cut CO2 emissions from all modes of transport has finally begun to drive significant change within the maritime industry.  Under a new international agreement issued by the International Maritime Organisation, the global maritime sector has committed to cutting emissions by at least half, by 2050, however, a number of countries have more ambitious targets. For example, the UK has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050; its Clean Maritime Plan, building on its Maritime 2050 strategy, aims to reduce pollution to improve public health and protect the environment, calling for all new maritime vessels to be designed with zero-emissions capable technologies, from 2025 onwards.

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.

Iain Percy OBE

Artemis Technologies has developed a new approach to maritime design, more in line with aerospace and motorsport, using bespoke simulation and performance prediction tools to develop digital twins in the design process, and utilise new lightweight structures and modern manufacturing techniques.

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. Over the last two years, Artemis Technologies has been developing a commercial application for this technology, named the eFoiler Propulsion System (eFoiler).

The eFoiler is based on the integration of an ultra-high-density electric Motor Generator Unit into an autonomously controlled carbon fibre hydrofoil. With a minimal increase in wetted surface area and drag, it provides the first viable solution for the early adoption of high-speed zero-emissions maritime transport.

This technology will reduce the drag of a conventional fast ferry or traditional passive ‘V’ hydrofoil, by up to 90%, uniquely making electric propulsion, with high-speed and range, commercially viable.

The members of the syndicate/consortium for the zero-emission ferries are: Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, North Down Borough Council, Energia, Catalyst, Belfast Met, Belfast City Council, Ards and Queen’s University, Belfast.