October 5, 2023


Current Maritime News | Clean Energy

Boundary Layer pioneers in design concepts for hydrofoil vessels

3 min read
ARGO design - Source boundary layer Tech

ARGO design - Source Boundary Layer Tech.

The California-based marine technology startup Boundary Layer Technologies is pioneering the solution of containership design. The concept design is to deal with multiple current issues including congestion at ports, faster sea cargo delivery time, and zero-emission target.

The ARGO – a zero-emissions hydrofoil containership concept design.

The company plans to operate these vessels to establish a zero-emission shipping service that can replace air freight along major intra-Asia trade lanes. 


The ARGO ship has a design of gross payload capacity of 200 tons, a range of up to 1,500 nautical miles, and a cruise speed of 40 knots, which is twice as much as containerships.

ARGO features green hydrogen and fuel cells, which are stored as the liquid inside the double hulls. Green hydrogen has a high potential to widely be used as a marine fuel. Recently, ExxonMobil makes its move to a hydrogen production plant.

ARGO can be a replaceable method of transporting cargo with reasonable dwell time. according to Stuart Whiting, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Logistics & Planning at Schneider Electric.

“ARGO’s small size and payload capacity (comparable to a B747-400F freighter aircraft) cuts dwell time to only 2 hours instead of 3 days, and offers the flexibility of docking virtually anywhere. This allows ARGO to bypass heavily congested ports while also competing with air freight transit times.”

This performance would enable door-door transit times only 15 to 24 hours slower than air freight, but at 50% of the price, according to the company. 

”We can see ARGO as a beneficial addition to enhance our current feeder and premium ocean freight services around Southeast Asia that are often susceptible to delays,” Whiting said.

The speed is outstanding in comparison with conventional boxships

The speed and price advantages are enabled by the company’s proprietary hydrofoil technology which is key to allowing ARGO to travel at 40 knots while using a fraction of the fuel that a conventional ship would need when traveling at the same high speed. 

A hydrofoil is a submerged wing device used to lift the hull from the water to reduce drag. The company has already completed the development of key pieces of ARGO’s technology stack and is on track to perform full-scale sub system tests by the end of 2023. 

At 110 ft long and 20 TEU capacity, ARGO is a fraction of the size of conventional containerships. This unusually small size could be the key to solving many supply chain issues, according to Ed Kearney, CEO and Founder of Boundary Layer Technologies. 

Boundary Layer Technologies’ solution is being well received in the market, according to Per Karsten Stolle, who is a strategic advisor to Boundary Layer Technologies and former Commercial Director of logistics giant DHL.

“From what customers are telling us, the combination of a zero-emission transport solution that can also cut air freight spend would be a gamechanger for helping them meet emissions reduction targets while addressing rising costs from supply chain disruptions,” Stolle commented. 

The company is currently selecting launch partners for an intra-Asia ARGO service launching in Q3 2024 to ship finished goods and components for major electronic manufacturers in the region. 

ELECTRA – Hydrofoil Electric Ferry

ELECTRA Ferry Project
ELECTRA Ferry Project – Source Boundary Layer Tech.

The company is also working on a hydrofoil electric ferry project, named ELECTRA.

ELECTRA – twice the speed and range of existing electric ferries – has a range of up to 100 nautical miles and cruise speed of 40 knots due to Boundary Layer Technology’s proprietary hydrofoil technology and podded propulsion system. Compared to fossil fuel alternatives, ELECTRA’s battery electric propulsion significantly reduces cabin noise by up to 20dB compared to conventional ferries. It’s foiling system also offers excellent seakeeping and ride comfort.

“Hydrofoil technology is the key to enabling electrification of passenger ferries” explains Ed Kearney, CEO of Boundary Layer Technologies.

Source Offshore-energy, Boundary Layer Technologies

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