Zulu Associates, the Belgian zero emission vessel developer, and its subsidiary, Anglo Belgian Shipping Company Ltd, have introduced the concept design of their 200 TEU short sea container vessel, the Zulu Mass. The zero-emission ship also features an auxiliary wind assistance system and is to set sail in 2025.

It is a larger seagoing development of the inland waterways 90 TEU X-Barge, currently under final construction design. Zulu Associates CEO Antoon Van Coillie said the latest design of the Zulu Mass has been produced by Dutch ship naval architects Conoship International.

Also read: Conoship to design autonomous zero-emission short sea vessel Zulu Mass

Modular energy containers and wind assist

Van Coillie: ‘Working with Conoship, we are challenging ourselves to build the most advanced and innovative vessel we can. As a result, apart of being fully electric and autonomous, we’re adding wind blades and examining wave foil propulsion. This is a very exciting time for short sea shipbuilding where traditional concepts are being challenged, driving change and enabling new zero emission possibilities.’

Van Coillie confirms the designers are looking for the vessel to operate with modular energy containers using batteries and/or hydrogen based power systems to provide the prime energy sources. Discussions with providers of energy on a use basis are on-going in parallel with the design as this is an integral part of the vessel’s operation.

Also read: Inland vessel Zulu 4 sails autonomously in Belgium

Autonomous operation

‘Autonomy is still in its infancy, but we want to show what is possible and support the process of regulation keeping pace with innovation,’ adds Van Coillie. ‘As a result, the Zulu Mass is designed from the outset to be unmanned as a part of a Maritime Autonomy System, which will allow it to compete with fossil fuelled or hybrid vessels.’

He continues: ‘Belgium is at the forefront of marine innovation, and has had a legal framework for pilot projects featuring unmanned vessels in the North Sea since July 2021. That has given us the confidence to embrace and invest in the Zulu Mass where some in the industry were being much more cautious.’

‘Now, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming to harmonise the procedures to obtain certification for an unmanned ship to sail between the four countries. This should result in a single request replacing the need of having to apply for two to more permits. We aim to seize the initiative of this opportunity and get the Zulu Mass in the water as a world first and industry trailblazer in 2025,’ Van Coillie concludes.

Also read: Conoship introduces new future-ready cargo vessel design