Zero-carbon marine revolution

Advanced modular production approach and sustainable materials, such as aluminium, will help Europe to revolutionize and decarbonize the waterborne transportation sector.
23 октября 2020
Many people living in coastal or island communities are fully dependent on ferries for transportation. Traditionally fuel-powered, this type of water transport is highly polluting, emitting CO₂, SO₂, NOₓ and particulate matter.
Conventional ferries are also a source of noise pollution, which, according to the European Environment Agency, may affect the health of humans and wildlife.

As such, the European community has decided to significantly decarbonize the water transport sector and has launched – The TrAM Project (Transport Advanced and Modular), a fully aluminium electric ferry for passengers. This will be a European Union-funded program and a step forward to make shipbuilding more efficient and environmentally friendly.
According to the TrAM project's official website it "is to develop a zero emission fast going passenger vessel through advanced modular production. New manufacturing methods will contribute to 25 per cent lower production costs and 70 per cent lower engineering costs. The project is revolutionary both in terms of zero emission technology and manufacturing methods, and will contribute to making electric-powered high-speed vessel competitive in terms of both cost and the environment."

Both the construction approach and the use of aluminium for building the future ferry were carefully selected to make the zero emissions goal dully reachable. Everything had to be the most sustainable friendly and as such the aluminium, provided by Hydro, was chosen as the key material for the ferry's superstructure.
Apart from that, the modular approach, common to the car industry, will be implemented during the modeling and construction. "Standardization allows us to use the same components and designs, which can be used in various applications," says Thomas Svendsen, Market Manager in Hydro Extruded Solutions' Marine & Offshore business in the company's official press release.

"This lowers the cost of designing and engineering a ship, dealing with sub-contractors, and constructing the vessel. But it is also makes shipbuilding more flexible, meaning you can have standard bow and stern modules, and simply add modules in the middle for more passenger capacity," Svendsen says.

One ferry can contain 25-30 tonnes of aluminium. Low-carbon aluminium options (produced with renewable sources of power) which can be used to improve the environmental performance even further. All in all, aluminium is one of the most sustainable materials in the world which make it the metal of choice for those companies who are willing to reduce the carbon footprint for the final product.
There are many benefits of an all-aluminium, electrical battery-driven ferry with close to zero carbon emissions being the most important factor. The positive impact can be already predicted: according the TrAM's project plan, one ferry is destined for service in the Stavanger region, Norway. It will be operated by the Rogaland County Council and Kolumbus, the regional transportation company.

As for now, Kolumbus operates around 10 vessels on fast-ferry routes. According to the TrAM Project, the CO2 emissions from these vessels are at the same level of emissions from all 450 buses that operate Kolumbus' bus routes in Rogaland, again illustrating the importance of zero-emission technology for fast ferries.

Other important profits from using aluminium is its lightweightness and corrosion resistance. As the Hydro's official press release states "batteries are heavy, and weight is a challenge when considering speed on water. The need to cut weight is essential, which means using light aluminium in the structure is key to cutting the overall weight significantly. In addition, aluminium is highly corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for marine applications."

Shipyard work is slated for 2021-2022, and the ferry is expected to be in operation in 2022-2023.

Cover photo: Hydro