Boundary Layer Technologies has announced it is working on a zero-emissions, fuel cell-powered hydrofoiling containership, called ARGO, which it plans to launch in Q3 2024, says an article published in Bunkerspot.
In a statement issued on Friday (25 February), the California-based startup said it plans to use ARGO vessels to establish a ‘zero-emission shipping service that can replace air freight along major intra-Asia trade lanes’.
The company added that the ARGO ship will have a gross payload capacity of 200 tonnes, a range of up to 1,500 nautical miles, and a cruise speed of 40 knots, which is twice that of conventional container ships.
Boundary Layer Technologies estimated that this performance would ‘enable door-door transit times only 15 to 24 hours slower than air freight, but at 50% of the price’.
The ARGO vessel will be powered by fuel cells and green hydrogen, stored as a liquid inside its two hulls.
The company said that the key to ARGO vessel’s performance is the proprietary hydrofoil technology which will allow it to ‘travel at 40 knots while using a fraction of the fuel that a conventional ship would need when traveling at the same high speed’. A hydrofoil is a submerged wing device used to lift the hull from the water to reduce drag.
The company has already completed development of key pieces of ARGO’s technology stack, and says it is on track to perform full scale sub system tests by the end of 2023.
At 110 ft long and 20 TEU capacity, ARGO has less than a thousandth of the cargo capacity of the new generation of ultra large containerships – but Boundary Layer Technologies believes its nimbleness is an important asset.
Ed Kearney, the CEO and Founder of Boundary Layer Technologies, explained: ‘ARGO’s small size and payload capacity (comparable to a B747-400F freighter aircraft) cuts dwell time to only 2 hours instead of 3 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.’
The company said that it is currently selecting launch partners for an intra-Asia ARGO service launching in Q3 2024 to ship finished goods and components for major electronic manufacturers in the region. It has future plans to launch a larger vessel on a transpacific service for which it says it has a $180 million Letter of Intent from the digital freight forwarder, Flexport.
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