Feasibility Study into a Sea-River Container Vessel with Low Emissions


With Tharsis Sea-river Shipping's current vessel, the shipping company was a forerunner in 2011 with the installation of a diesel-electric propulsion. The first ship of its kind with this fuel and emission-saving technology. Meanwhile, extensive experience has been gained with electric sailing and the shipping company has decided to take the next step. The expansion to sea-river container shipping with a ship that can sail emission-free without adjustments. The subsidy granted by Nederland Maritiem Land (NML) at the start of 2019 ensured that Tharsis was able to work out a concept for such an innovative ship. This research is performed in close collaboration with Conoship International B.V.

The starting points of the design were high employability, also in the event of drought and low water levels on the Waal and Rhine in combination with a low airdraft for these rivers. This allows the transshipment of cargo in the seaports to be skipped at any time. In addition, the ship had to have an electric drive with the possibility of completely emission-free sailing.

For sailing at extremely low water levels, a sailing draft of 170 cm should be possible, research was conducted into various forms of stern vessels. An additional complicating factor was the desired relatively high speed at sea of ​​13 knots. A pram-shaped aft ship with 3 L-drives has been chosen which is integrated into the aft ship by means of a headbox which functions as a tunnel in a situation with little draft.

The focus of Tharsis was on investigating the possible emission-saving techniques and power sources that can feed the electric drive in a sustainable way. The sailing area lends itself to look beyond the current and often limited possibilities in maritime shipping to save emissions by using the infrastructure of inland shipping.

Conoship International B.V. has included the results of research into these techniques in a concept ship design. This 300 Teu open-top design is a ship with electric propulsion, which will be powered by energy containers.

The research has shown that several market parties are now developing containerized energy solutions. These are initially aimed at the infrastructure of inland shipping and can be ready for the market when the ship design can actually be put into service and possibly even earlier. The various solutions consist of battery technologies such as Lithium-Ion and Aluminum-Air. In addition, work is being done on a hydrogen fuel cell whereby the hydrogen is stored in the same container. In order to be able to make optimum use of one of these solutions, or a combination thereof, 14 energy container store positions have been planned on the fore and aft ship. This makes it possible to switch easily between the aforementioned or new energy sources without affecting the integrity of the propulsion system. Practice has shown that the conversion of a conventional propulsion system to a more sustainable solution on existing ships is rarely done because an older ship does not justify the costly investments due to the payback period.

Tharsis Sea-River Shipping has presented the concept design to a several interested parties as a "green" solution for congestion in the major sea ports as well as on certain road routes. The positive outcome means that Tharsis is currently working out the actual construction of this vessel.

For enquiries regarding this project please contact Jan Albert Bosma.


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