ZULU Associates and Flanders Hydraulics have signed an agreement to investigate and validate the energy efficiency of its ‘X-Barge’ in confined and shallow waters.
The X-Barge is an 85cm ECMT class IV inland vessel, designed for container and dry bulk shipping.
It has been developed to deal efficiently with its energy resources and modular energy storage and alternative sources of energy such as batteries and/or hydrogen.
The vessel is also designed to navigate autonomously, which is expected to result in the economic margin necessary to compete with fossil-fuelled vessels using alternative energy sources.
The Anglo Belgian shipping company ZULU Associates is active as an initiator, developer and operator of innovations in the marine component of logistic chains.
Its goal is to enable zero-emission operation of commercial vessels on inland waterways, short sea and coastal routes through autonomous operation and alternative propulsion.
It is developing a fleet of zero-emission barges and vessels for inland and short-sea shipping that use a combination of alternative propulsion forms and autonomous operation to be economically competitive.
Flanders Hydraulics is a division of the department of mobility and public works of the Flemish Government and has been a centre of expertise for research and advice on hydraulic, nautical, sediment-related and hydrological topics for more than 90 years.
This study is necessary to optimise the hull shape of the X-Barge, especially in the European canals and rivers, and at low water levels, which helps to enable the transition of inland waterway barges to zero emission. The less energy the barge needs per ton/km, the more competitive it is compared to fossil fuel-powered barges.