Engineering details of zero-emission hydrofoil containership revealed

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California-based startup Boundary Layer Technologies has revealed operational plans and engineering design for its zero-emission hydrofoiling containership, Argo. The company plans to operate these vessels as a zero-emission shipping service that can replace air freight along major intra-Asia trade lanes.

The Argo has a gross payload capacity of 200 tons, a range of up to 1,500 nautical miles, and a cruise speed of 40kts – twice that of conventional container ships. Argo is powered by green hydrogen and fuel cells (stored as a liquid inside its two hulls).

“We can see Argo as a beneficial addition to enhance our current feeder and premium ocean freight services around Southeast Asia that are often susceptible to delays,” said Stuart Whiting, senior vice president of Global Supply Chain, Logistics and Planning at Schneider Electric.

The speed and price advantages are enabled by the vessel’s proprietary hydrofoil technology, which enables the Argo to travel at 40kts while using a fraction of the fuel that a conventional ship would need when traveling at the same speed. Boundary Layer Technologies has already completed development of key pieces of Argo’s technology stack, and is on track to perform full scale sub system tests by the end of 2023.

The ship’s small size could be the key to solving many supply chain issues, according to Ed Kearney, CEO and founder of Boundary Layer Technologies: “Argo’s small size and payload capacity cuts dwell time to only two hours instead of three days, and offers the flexibility of docking virtually anywhere. This allows Argo to bypass heavily congested ports, while also competing with air freight transit times.”

“From what customers are telling us, the combination of a zero-emission transport solution that can also cut air freight spend would be a gamechanger for helping them meet emissions reduction targets while addressing rising costs from supply chain disruptions” said Per Karsten Stolle, strategic advisor to Boundary Layer Technologies and former commercial director of DHL.

Boundary is currently selecting launch partners for an intra-Asia Argo service launching in Q3 2024 to ship finished goods and components for major electronics manufacturers in the region. It has future plans to launch a larger vessel on a trans-Pacific service, for which it has a US$180m Letter of Intent from digital freight forwarder Flexport.

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Matt joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over 15 years and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International. He is also the chairman of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation & Excellence, and the Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International Awards.

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