UK trio to develop electric hydro-foiling high-speed ferry

Solent University, Chartwell Marine and Newcastle Marine Services have joined forces to develop a new electric hydro-foiling high-speed ferry.

Credit: Solent University

Following the development of an original concept by Solent University, the group is aiming to develop an electric hydro-foiling high-speed trimaran, capable of carrying up to 40 passengers on short to medium range coastal routes.

This £1.86 million project is being funded by Innovate UK, under the Cleaner Maritime Demonstration Competition, to develop and build a scaled demonstrator vessel, proving that the concept is viable and can operate in a range of weather and sea conditions.

Initial testing has demonstrated the potential for a foiling trimaran with low drag and power requirements. 

“A traditional, diesel-powered, 40-passenger catamaran ferry operating at 25 knots typically requires well over 1000kw of power. The trimaran foiling ferry concept has the potential to reach 28 knots using just 250kW of power – equivalent to the power used by two modern electric family cars (2×125Kw motors). This means it is possible to power the craft using zero emission electric motors, with a significant reduction in associated fuel and operational costs compared to a traditional diesel craft,” Giles Barkley, from Solent University said.

“Recent advancements in electrical propulsion technology mean zero-emission, low-drag, high-speed medium capacity passenger vessels are now viable. These types of passenger vessels can open ‘blue corridors’, encouraging a shift from road to alternative transport on otherwise underutilised coastal waterways,” Solent University Project Lead, Associate Professor of Marine Sustainability, Laurie Wright added.

Following the successful deployment of the demonstration vessel, a ‘full-size’ vessel could be offered for commercial operation.

 “As electric propulsion technology advances within the marine industry, we are presented with exciting opportunities to develop zero emission vessels that can capitalise on the underutilised coastal waterways,” Andy Page, Director of Chartwell Marine, stated.

The UK Government is funding the development of new clean maritime technology across a 2-year period. Innovative companies developing futuristic green technology will benefit 12 regions around the UK.

“The ferry will significantly reduce operational costs and carbon emissions, making it an attractive solution for short distance passenger ferry operators in the UK and beyond. This project demonstrates our commitment to advancing sustainable maritime technology and supporting the UK’s efforts to become a global leader in low carbon maritime,” Iman Ramzanpoor, Managing Director of Newcastle Marine Services noted.

In March last year, the UK Government announced it is planning to invest  £4 billion (approximately $5.3 billion) in the country’s regional shipbuilding industry. The investment will support shipyards and suppliers across the UK, delivering a pipeline of more than 150 new civil and naval vessels over the next 30 years.

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