The world’s first green submarine is one of five maritime projects involving the University of Strathclyde to win UK Government funding worth a total of £1.7M.

The successful project bids involve researchers from the University’s Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME) department and are among  55 winning projects of the £23 million Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

The Research & Development contest is funded by the Department of Transport, who will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. The aim is to support the development of innovative technology to drive the commitment to have zero emission ships operating commercially by 2025 – creating hundreds of highly skilled jobs and establishing the UK as world leaders in clean maritime.

Green hydrogen

Researchers from the world’s first dedicated Peridynamics Research Centre at Strathclyde, are involved in the £380,000 Oceanways project. Peridynamcs can be used to calculate the effect of a tiny crack in an aeroplane wing, an iceberg hitting a ship, and even a bullet on a human body and the project will examine how a fully automated submarine fleet, powered entirely on green hydrogen, could also help cleanse the oceans of toxic pollution by collecting microplastics on its pilot route between Glasgow and Belfast.

While transporting cargo shipments, the fleet could secure significant emission savings of 27 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the first year of operation, with an overall mission to reduce 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions as the fleet grows.

Another project led by NAOME is a £680,000 initiative enabling retrofit technologies. TransShip will research the feasibility of retro-fitting existing ocean ocean-going and short-sea shipping vessels to enable them to make the seamless transition to hydrogen powered waterborne transport systems. Leading experts and key patent holders from across four industrial partners and two academic institutions will develop novel technologies, including onboard hydrogen technology and energy saving devices for hydrogen powered ships.

Zero-carbon fuels

Strathclyde is also leading on the £500,000 NEPTUNE project to support the transition to zero-carbon fuels for the Shetland Islands’ maritime industry.

The initiative will develop a desk-based decision modelling and support system (DEMOSS) tool that will help to analyse, scope and develop plans for supporting the transition.

In partnership with Ricardo UK, Babcock International and Shetland Islands Council, the project aligns with the archipelago’s 2030 net zero target.

The Strathclyde-led Lifecycle Energy Solutions for Clean Scotland/UK Maritime Economy project is addressing fundamental questions around what are the promising energy solutions for the West of Scotland and UK shipping sector.

 A further project with Carnot Engine will look at the feasibility of converting a ceramic generator to hydrogen/ammonia fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 Professor Feargal Brennan, Head of Department for Naval Architecture Ocean and Marine Engineering, said: “The climate emergency demands that we apply the very best innovation to ensure clean maritime transport solutions. 

“Strathclyde is leading and supporting a broad range of exciting research projects with industrial partners, and to have been successful in all five of its research proposals in this major UK Department of Transport initiative, is testament to Strathclyde’s strength and leadership within this vitally important area.”

 “We look forward to delivering this research and to seeing our innovations applied to achieve a new generation of zero carbon marine transport vessels.”

Speaking at the announcement of the projects, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: ”As a proud island nation built on our maritime prowess, it is only right that we lead by example when it comes to decarbonising the sector and building back greener.  

“The projects showcase the best of British innovation, revolutionising existing technology and infrastructure to slash emissions, create jobs and get us another step closer to our decarbonisation targets.”