Belfast-based Artemis Technologies has unveiled the design of its 100% electric EF-24 passenger ferry earlier today. From 2024, the first of the high-speed 24 metre long foiling catamaran ferries, named ZERO, will sail between Belfast and Bangor as part of a pilot project.
The Belfast designed and built vessel is said to create no air, water, or noise pollution. According to Belfast Maritime Consortium, shipping currently accounts for 15% of nitrogen oxides, 13% of Sulphur oxides, and 3% of carbon dioxide emissions annually, an amount that is expected to increase without the use of new technologies.
A ferry journey between Belfast and Bangor is expected to take 25 minutes. This compares favourably with the existing train service which takes upwards of half an hour. The pilot service will be operated by Condor Ferries, which joined the consortium behind the project earlier this year.
The 150-seat fully accessible ferry will provide storage for up to 18 bicycles, allowing passengers to continue their journey on two wheels. Onboard charging facilities and a baby changing area will also be available.
Artemis Technologies CEO, double Olympic gold medalist Dr Iain Percy OBE, said:
“The zero-emission ferry that will be seen departing Belfast in 2024, aptly named ‘Zero’, will be the first we build at our manufacturing hub in the city, but it is only the start.
“Many water-based cities around the world are grappling with the challenge of growing populations, congestion, and pollution.
“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”.
Unique Propulsion System
At first glance Artemis’ new ferry may appear similar to the small catamarans which are already common around the world. The difference is that ZERO will use Artemis’ 100% electric eFoiler® system for propulsion. This lifts most of the craft completely out of the water when above 18 knots, like a hydrofoil ferry.
The result is that just the propulsion system itself and three stilts (called hydrofoils) on which the ferry sits remain in contact with the water, hugely reducing drag and wake. The forward two hydrofoils, which are joined below the waterline, do the bulk of the lifting and each have an electric propulsion system integrated, while the aft hydrofoil provides additional stability and acts like a rudder. Thrusters can provide assistance during low speed manoeuvres. A retractable foiling system can also be specified, allowing the craft to operate in shallow waters.
Artemis claims that using a foiling system means passengers and crew will enjoy a far more comfortable ride, mitigating the effects of sea sickness often associated with offshore ferry routes. The company also claims that the vessels will be much cheaper to operate than their conventionally powered counterparts.
Intelligent technology is also incorporated into the design. The ride height of the vessel is managed by an autonomous flight control system unique high-speed collision avoidance system developed with Queens University Belfast.
Artemis’ EF-24 will be capable of 38 knots and will have a foiling range of 115 nautical miles at 25 knots. The vessel will produce minimal wake which the company says will allow it to be used at speed close to shore or in busy waterways. A speed restriction currently operates in many waterways, including in Belfast Lough, due to waves generated by the wake of vessels.
Not Just Ferries
Earlier this year, Artemis Technologies began testing of a small workboat which uses the Foiler® propulsion system, PIONEER, in Belfast Lough. That vessel is being benchmarked against a diesel-powered part-sister ship, providing vital data which can be fed into the EF-24 ferry project.
Artemis Technologies plans to export its high-speed EF-12 workboat and crew transfer vessels around the world and is already taking orders for delivery next year. This will see the return of commercial shipbuilding to Belfast Harbour at a site which overlooks the entrance to the building dock at the historic Harland & Wolff shipyard.
Artemis is the lead partner in the Belfast Maritime Consortium which is developing the Foiler® ferry concept. The company’s factory and headquarters are both based within the Belfast Harbour estate. Other partners in the 14 member syndicate include Invest NI, Belfast Harbour, Condor Ferries, Queens University Belfast, Ulster University, Belfast Metropolitan College, Spirit Aerosystems, engineering company NIACE, Creative Composites, Belfast City Council, and North Down & Ards Borough Council.