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10 UK zero-emisison ship projects share $1.7m of grants

It is generally accepted that a fair degree of innovation will be required if the maritime sector is to reduce its current environmental footprint. In line with this and specifically to meet the UK Government’s goal of achieving zero-emission shipping as outlined in its Maritime 2050 strategy, Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) has now awarded grants totalling £1.4m ($1.7m) to 10 British-based organisations to help fund the development of pertinent mid-Technology Readiness Level (TRL 3-7) technologies.

Issued under the auspices of the Clean Maritime Call programme, a MarRI-UK imitative backed by the Department for Transport (DfT), the grants’ recipients were chosen by independent reviewers that sought to appraise projects on the basis of their environmental potential, cost effectiveness and fit with the Maritime 2050 strategy. In total, 55 submissions were assessed.

Here’s our run down of the winners.


Totalling £250,000, the largest grant went to RS Sailing for its TorQ project. With a total value of £653,500, this particular project concerns the design and manufacture of a rigid inflatable powerboat employing a zero-emission inboard electric engine. To be manufactured using recycled and reusable materials wherever viable, the resultant vessel will be as environmentally benign as possible both in terms of manufacture and operation. Moreover, the boat’s propulsion system is not only envisaged as being cleaner and quieter than conventional internal combustion engines, but also more reliable and therefore requiring less frequent maintenance.

Meanwhile, a consortium led by Green Fuel Research netted a grant worth nearly £244,000 for its Sustainable Aquaculture Leading to Marine Opportunities (SALMO) project. Valued at round £326,000, this project will see the company, along with researchers from London South Bank University and the University of Cardiff, developing methods to produce renewable fuels for maritime applications from waste borne of the country’s salmon farming, aquaculture and fishing sectors.

Looking to identify the optimum zero carbon propulsion system for service operations vessels and subsequently larger ships, a consortium led by Bibby Marine Services successfully secured funding worth approximately £210,000 for its WaveMaster Zero C project. Valued just north of £374,000, the project will compare the efficacy of biofuel-, hydrogen-, ammonia-, methanol- and battery-powered systems with conventional diesel designs, assessing them in terms of both vessel-based and landside operations from an environmental as well as a technical and financial perspective.

In a similar vein, a consortium led by Babcock International landed more than £195,000 for its FC-BATShip Fuel Cell-Battery Hybrid Ship project. Pooling the resources of Babcock with Fuel Cell Systems, Plug Power and the University of Warwick Manufacturing Group, this project to develop a zero-emission propulsion system for maritime applications is valued at around £407,000 in total. 

Coming in at just over £105,000, the grant awarded to Plymouth Boat Trips (PBT), on the other hand, will be used to produce the country’s first fully electric domestic passenger vessel. Valued at around £237,000, this project will see PBT operating a test vessel equipped with Magtec electric motors; an electric-drive optimised propeller from Teignbridge Propellers; and an energy storage system designed and built by EVParts.


The University of Nottingham, meanwhile, will put its grant of just over £97,000 towards developing advanced zero-emission ammonia engines for future marine applications. This will see the University experimenting with two new ammonia combustions systems as part of a project conducted in conjunction with MAHLE Powertrain and Shell and valued at nearly £454,000.

At the same time, the approximately £69,000 awarded to Marine South East (Commercial) will cover more than half the cost of its Flow Batteries for Marine Application (FLO-MAR) project. Valued at just under £120,000, this project will see the company, along with Houlder, Lloyds Register and Swanbarton, assessing the feasibility of deploying flow batteries in vessels while comparing them with such alternative power sources as hydrogen and lithium-ion batteries.

Working on its own, Intrada Ships Management will use the roughly £67,500 it was awarded to develop a proof-of-concept energy storage system to be fitted on a British-flagged general cargo vessel operating short sea routes around northern Europe. Also working alone, BMT will fund half of its Energy Saving Technology (EST) Asset Leasing Models project with a grant of £27,000. In so doing, it will explore various commercial means by which to accelerate the adoption of ESTs by the global shipping sector.

And Signol, the behavioral economics specialists (featured on a recent Aronnax podcast) has teamed up with University College London’s Energy Institute for the STEAM project (Sustainability Through Efficient Actions in Maritime) and won nearly £130,000 of project funds from MaRI-UK. The project aim is to improve energy efficiency of vessels by optimising in-voyage decision making using behavioural economics.

About Author

Brian Dixon is a business and industry journalist with more than 20 years' experience writing about ports and logistics. A member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, he has covered stories on six continents. He divides his time between the UK and East Asia