John Cumming, Head of Workboats at Artemis Technologies, was invited to share his expertise in an article for The International Maritime Pilots’ Association‘s magazine, The International Pilot. John explains how our innovative, 100% electric foiling pilot vessel is a safer option for pilots and also a technical and economically viable solution to decarbonising their vessels’ operations.
Driven by our mission to deliver a sustainable maritime future, Artemis has developed a range of high-speed, green vessels with applications across sectors such as pilotage, crew transfer and passenger ferry. Producing zero-emissions in operation, our vessels and systems are designed to have the lowest possible impact on the environment – delivering tomorrow’s transport today.
The Need for Change
Over 80% of world trade is moved by ship, with every ship entering or leaving a port required under law to engage an Authorised Pilot. Over 3,200 pilot vessels are registered globally with annual emissions of 820,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e). It is therefore critical that we take action to reduce harmful emissions and strive to work in harmony with our planet.
When factors such as supply chain, infrastructure and efficiency losses are taken into consideration, electricity is widely acknowledged as the best choice among various green fuel alternatives for its positive impact on the environment.
However, the electrification of maritime transport is not without its challenges, including the lack of speed and range to deliver typical commercial operations. Water is 850 times denser than air, so it requires a lot of energy to propel a boat through water. To address this challenge, we have developed a disruptive electric propulsion and active hydrofoil system, the Artemis eFoiler®. The innovative system includes a high-power density electric drivetrain integrated into an autonomously controlled hydrofoil, combining technologies from automotive, yacht racing and aerospace sectors.
Fly Above the Waves
Hydrofoil technology can reduce both drag and increase range for any given power source. It is this same technology that is used to power our Artemis EF-12 Pilot vessels, giving them an impressive foiling range of 55 nautical miles at 25 knots, and the ability to fully recharge within one hour. Hydrofoiling also offers some important secondary benefits to the pilot industry, such as a comfortable ride, and increased slow speed stability.
As our vessels fly above the water, they no longer slam into each wave, mitigating motion sickness and ensuring crew experience is much more comfortable. The Artemis EF-12’s flight control automatically starts above two knots, so even in displacement mode there is increased comfort for crew and pilots due to the dampening effect of the underwater foils reducing the roll and increasing stability.
We know that the act of transferring a pilot is one of the most challenging and dangerous operations carried out at sea, with highly complex interactions between the wind, waves, and hydrodynamic effects of the vessel. The Artemis EF-12 Pilot vessel, designed to the Lloyd’s Register Special Service Craft classification rules, has six times fewer vertical accelerations in sea state four compared to a conventional displacement vessel, providing greater safety for pilots and crew onboard.
The foil can also generate 12-tonnes of lift, enough to maintain 0-2 degrees of roll in two metre seas at 25 knots and counteracting the waves and roll when alongside a ship.
(Not) Making Waves
The Artemis EF-12 Pilot can avoid local speed restrictions thanks to the minimal wake produced by our patented technology. This makes it an ideal solution for traditionally busy waterways in ports and harbours. Operations usually need to slow right down to protect wildlife and other vessels as they approach ports and marinas, but with a foiling boat, where displacement is quite deep under the water, the wave never generates. This allows high-speed operations close to shore, without causing the usual wake damage to shorelines or moored vessels. Furthermore, there is an extremely low acoustic signature which means the pilot vessel can also operate quietly in ports and harbours reducing noise pollution.
We Know it Works
The environmental benefits of our Artemis eFoiler® system were first demonstrated in 2022 when we launched to market the world’s first commercially coded 100% electric foiling workboat, ‘Pioneer of Belfast’. Sea trials have allowed us to demonstrate the incredible efficiency savings of the Artemis eFoiler® system. In comparison to a gasoline-powered sistership the electric foiling vessel uses up to 90% less energy. A typical pilot vessel can consume between 450-800 litres of diesel a day, emitting up to 1,200 tonnes CO2e per year. Adopting this green technology will drop these operational emissions to zero and result in significant OPEX savings through fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs.
In the Department for Transport and Innovate UK’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC), we received funding for a feasibility study, alongside Belfast Harbour Commissioners. The study was to ascertain if a 100% electric foiling pilot vessel is a technical and economically viable solution to decarbonise pilot vessel operations. This proved successful, with the technology demonstrating considerable improvements to speed of operations, Total Cost of Operation (TCO), slow speed stability, and subsequently safety during pilot transfer.
During initial testing and validation of our flight control solutions for different vessels, our world leading simulation tools are used extensively. Forming part of the overall Artemis eFoiler® solution, the flight control system was developed to make it easier for the master to operate our vessels. The system’s advanced algorithm removes the more complex challenges, allowing them to focus on typical operations that they are accustomed to. It is imperative that our flight control system is easy to use, as the best solution is one that operates in tandem with the master. As part of our CMDC study, current skippers of pilot vessels and pilots conducted pilot transfers in our simulator in a range of conditions. The engineers then studied the hydrodynamics and improved the flight control system to maximise stability and ease of operation in a range of conditions.
“The feasibility study allowed us to thoroughly examine the operation of our pilot boats, encompassing aspects such as fuel consumption, service and maintenance costs, and the environmental impact.
It also enabled me to spend time on Artemis’ prototype vessel, Pioneer of Belfast. Whilst it was a great experience to be gliding through the port at 25 knots with virtually no wake, what was most important for us was the reduction in both noise and vibration, as well as improved stability at sea.
It’s been great to have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the team at Artemis Technologies, they have grasped the essential elements of pilot boat operations, when working on the design of the Artemis EF-12 Pilot.”
Jamie Faulkner, Deputy Harbour Master at Belfast Harbour
Lead the Way
With pilot vessels forecast to grow at the same rate as the world merchant fleet by 6.4% over the next five years, it has never been more important for pilot vessel operations to decarbonise. At Artemis Technologies we can offer ports and harbours around the world an exciting, sustainable alternative solution while making the operational experience more comfortable, safer and efficient for masters, crews and pilots.
Article published in The International Pilot, Issue 55, January 2024
Find out more about the Artemis EF-12 Pilot boat here