81: Autonomous electric container barge


There are many thousands of diesel-engined container ships and barges plying the canals and rivers of Europe. Diesel combustion exhaust is an indirect cause of human cancer, heart and lung damage, and mental functioning.


A Zero-emission autonomous container barge.

Ton van Meegen, inland waterways entrepreneur in the Nijmegen Area, Netherlands has started up Port-Liner to develop a fleet of fully-electric crewless container barges to transport freight initially from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam.

Called “Tesla ships”, One Kempenaar-sized vessel called the Tempsnip is 170 ft (52 m ) long and 19ft ( 6.7m) wide, and able to carry twenty-four 20ft (6 m) containers weighing up to 468 tons (425 tonnes).

Its electric motors will be driven by 20-ft (6 m) Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB), giving it 15 hours of power, charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provider Eneco. Although designed to operate without any crew, EC52 will be manned initially.

Adjustable wheelhouses enable them to go under 5m60 (16 ft) bridges, while by flooding its ballast tanks, it can further reduce its height.

The EC 110 version has a length of 328 ft (100 m) and a width of 38 ft (11m45), to load 14 containers of 20 ft (6 m). or 7 containers of 40 ft.(12 m) or any combination of the two sizes.with four E-Powerboxes would have an action radius of about 30 hours (143 mi or 230km).

This allows the vessel to easily cover the Rotterdam/Antwerp/Duisburg corridors, at competitive cost compared to conventional diesel propulsion. The ship can be customized (dimensions, cargo type ) up to 7700 tons (7,000 tonnes) .

Port-Liner submitted a project under which it will build five hybrid barges that will ply between De Kempen intermodal terminal in the Netherlands and Antwerp. Thanks to these hybrid barges there will be 23,000 fewer diesel trucks on the roads annually and a reduction of about 18,000 tonnes per year of CO₂.

According to a report from transportation news site “Elektrek », the 100 million-euro (US$122 million) project has been supported by a €7 million (US$8.6 million) subsidy from the European Union, with Loadstar also having reported that the Port of Antwerp had added a €200,000 (US$245,000) subsidy as part of a wider initiative to improve its port’s efficiency. Port-Liner can build 500 of these ships per year.

The battery pack could also be used to retro-fit existing river barges. During summer 2020, the 443 ft (135 m) Portliner Anna went on trials from Werkendam, southern Netherlands.

What you can do: If your company is freighting goods, think of using the rivers instead of the roads.

Discover Solution 82: No more half-empty containers

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