Is it a bird? This is a plane? No, it’s a flying ferry

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Three feet up Waves, Candela P-12 rushes across Lake Mälaren near Stockholm, Sweden. With only its hydrofoils slicing through the water, the boat leaves little to no wake, noise or emissions – unlike the huge diesel ferries that currently carry passengers across the archipelago that makes up Sweden’s capital.

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For now, it’s just a water fantasy: Swedish startup Candela is already building recreational versions of its electric flying boats, and the P-12 hasn’t been built yet. Candela CEO Gustav Hasselskog says the boat is in the “design for production phase” ahead of launching in November, followed by testing next year. The goal is for the flying ferry to become part of Stockholm’s public transport fleet.

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Reducing carbon emissions from ferries is a priority for a city surrounded by water. The existing city fleet of 60 ferries annually emits 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is 8 percent of total shipping emissions in Sweden— and they’re spewing urban air pollution, raising public health concerns. “Shipping needs to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” says Simon Bullock, a researcher at the Center for Climate Change Research. Tyndall at the University of Manchester.

In this regard, Sweden is ahead of the rest, and Stockholm is working on ferries without harmful emissions by 2025. Electric ferries previously convicted in the Swedish capital, local authorities are testing a different model from Green City ferries next to the flying R-12. Norway uses a passenger electric car ferries traveling through its fjordsBelfast in Northern Ireland is experiencing similar boat in the style of “flying” and the project Plymouth University The UK is converting diesel-powered ferries to electric ones. This is good news considering that ferries, most of which run on diesel fuel, are a major environmental concern: EU data shows that ferries account for 3 percent of all ships but account for 10 percent of carbon emissions, while more than 95 percent of US ferries on diesel fuel.

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But Candela believes cleaning up commuter traffic in Stockholm will take more than emissions-free energy: building ferries fast enough to convince more people to move away from cars. It takes 50 minutes by car from the suburbs of Tappström to downtown Stockholm in rush hour, Hasselskog said, but the P-12, which can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, can cross the waterways between the two in 25 minutes. Vaxholmsbolagetthe agency that manages public transport in the archipelago carries 1.2 million passengers annually, but that’s compared to 780,000 commutes to work on other forms of public transport each year. day in the city – in short, there is a place for more Swedes in the sea.

Contributed by Candela

The problem with powering any form of transport with electricity is that it requires heavy batteries. This is a particular problem for boats, as they suffer from water resistance. To solve this problem, Candela uses hydrofoils, legs that go into the water and act like wings, lifting the boat into the air as it picks up speed, much like an airplane takes off. “In the harbor, the wings are completely retracted, so they are protected,” says Hasselskog. “But then you drop the wings and step on the gas and away we go. The control system takes care of the entire takeoff sequence, just like in an airplane.”

Hydrofoils are not new, but electric power and automated control are new. The carbon fiber Candela P-12 will have two propulsion systems powered by 180kWh batteries, allowing it to run for three hours before needing to be recharged. The vessel is 12 meters long and 4.5 meters wide with a displacement of 8.5 tons and can carry 30 seats.

A super-fast flying boat sounds like a surefire way to lose your breakfast on your morning commute, but Candela has sensors that feed data into an automated control system to adjust altitude, as well as roll and pitch up to 100 times per second, to ensure a smooth ride in anyway. weather. “Thanks to the control system, we can eliminate any vertical movement of the boat,” says Hasselskog, “which is what usually causes seasickness. “So far no one has gotten seasick on our boats.”

All of this means that the Candela P-12, once built, should consume less energy per passenger than a hybrid electric bus, travel faster than a car, and reduce fuel and maintenance costs by 40 percent. And because it glides over water, it’s less damaging to the environment both above and below water.

Candela couldn’t just increase the size of her boat to build the P-12 – the rules call for a thicker hull, fire safety systems for the batteries and, confusingly, separate toilets for passengers and one crew member to operate all ships. time.

Toilets aside, there’s another regulatory issue: speed limits on inland waterways tend to be only six knots (7 mph), but hydrofoils are most efficient at top speed. Such speed limits are for safety and to reduce the wake that boats like the P-12 don’t cause. “The solution is to work with port authorities and ferry operators to get permission,” says Charles Haskell, decarbonization program manager at marine consultancy Lloyd’s Register. Around Stockholm this limit is 12 knots, although Candela has temporary release during the trial.

Not all cities can use waterways as highways, but it can be an attractive idea for coastal metropolitan areas. Competing flying boat manufacturer Artemis testing its version in Belfast, while Hasselskog negotiated with authorities in Istanbul and the Middle East. Representatives from the Water Transportation Emergency Authority (WETA), which operates ferry services in the San Francisco Bay Area, visited Stockholm to see the Candela P-12 in operation.

For coastal cities such as Stockholm, ferries could be the water equivalent of trams without the need for infrastructure such as a railway, although charging systems would be required. “If it acts like a sea tram that serves hundreds of people who would travel by car, then this is what we need more,” says Paul Chatterton, Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds. “Speed ​​is a red herring… in a big city river you need big big boats that can carry a lot of people over short distances.”

Hasselskog argues that a large fleet of smaller vessels provides more flexibility than larger ferries and may mean they are used on demand, eliminating the need for timetables or fixed stops. This idea is also promoted by hydrofoil water taxis powered by hydrogen. Sea Bubblesthat have been tested in Lyon, France. The smaller boats have another use, Haskell said: ferrying maintenance personnel and supplies to offshore wind farms, solving the problem of getting personnel to locations miles away without them arriving due to seasickness.

Even without top speeds, water taxis and boat buses hold promise for cities with waterways, Chatteron says, pointing to the popularity of Venetian transport. vaporetto. In addition to passenger transportation, slow electric canal barges could carry goods from the roads. “You can move a lot of things with little to no power,” says Chatterton, “and many European cities have canals.” More efficient use of urban waterways, whether by flying ferries or low-energy barges, makes sense for sustainability, Hasselskog says. “You don’t need any special infrastructure, the water is just there,” he says. “Perhaps that’s why they were used in those days – you just leave.”

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