The world’s first commercially viable “flying” hydrofoil boat has been launched by a Belfast-based maritime engineering firm.
Electrically powered hydrofoils, attached to the hull with vertical struts, hoist the boats over the water using the same technology used by America’s Cup racing yachts.
The eco-friendly vessels are then pushed upward by these underwater wings like an airplane on a runway being driven up and out of the water as they take off.
Not only does this allow the boat to sail almost silently, as its hull is no longer forced to separate the waves, but it also dramatically reduces air resistance – and thus operating costs.
Artemis Technologies, the company behind the 10-tonne emission-free electric boat – which can be recharged in an hour – is led by Olympic sailing champion Iain Percy.
It employs 60 people but plans to create 1,000 jobs in the next decade.
Each boat can carry 12 passengers and has a top speed of 34 knots and a range of 60 nautical miles. They can be used as work boats or to transport crew members to larger ships.
Artemis says its eFoiler propulsion system produces an energy saving of 90% compared to similar boats powered by fossil fuels.
The technology is a spin-off of the Artemis Racing team that competed in the America’s Cup, with the double Olympic champion, Mr. Percy, a four-time veteran of the yacht race.
“Combining our world-class experience with high-performance sailing, motorsport and advanced production, the electric propulsion system we have designed and developed is an absolute game changer for the industry in terms of range, cost savings and minimal wake-up call.” said Southampton-born Mr. Percy.
“The driving comfort of a hydrofoil vessel through a major sea route must be experienced to be believed, and it offers a completely smooth journey regardless of sea condition.
“This will enable engineers in crew transfer vessels or port operations to reach their destination and provide their services without inconvenience.
“This is just the beginning. As our vessels transform the commercial workboat and city-to-city passenger ferry sector over the coming years, Belfast and the UK will be at the forefront, creating thousands of jobs across the supply chain and heralding a green shipbuilding revolution. .
“With the global small boat market worth $ 70 billion, we are immensely proud to launch our first line of zero-emission vessels for the workboat sector, of which we have already received significant pre-market interest.
“This is an extremely significant milestone, not only for us, but in the global decarbonisation effort, where the International Maritime Organization demands that emissions be halved by 2050.”
Northern Ireland’s Foreign Secretary Brandon Lewis said Artemis made a “positive contribution” to Britain’s efforts to reduce emissions.
“The talent and expertise of Artemis Technologies is a leader in maritime decarbonisation and plays an important role in helping Northern Ireland and the UK achieve our net zero target,” he said.
“Artemis makes a positive contribution to the UK economy and supports innovation and job growth through the development of zero-emission technology.
“I’m glad that such a fantastic technology has been developed in Northern Ireland and that I have been able to see the eFoiler technology up close during a recent exhibition in Belfast.
“The launch of this series of green vessels from Artemis Technologies is a truly positive step in the fight against climate change.”