The Swiss company Almatech has unveiled ZESST, an ambitious hydrogen-powered shuttle project. Scheduled for 2025, this hydrofoil-type shuttle promises to "fly" over water.
ZESST (for Zero Emission Speed Shuttle) is billed as a certified zero-emission maritime shuttle. Green hydrogen and fuel cells power the shuttle's various electric motors, with only water released.
In addition to its zero-emission power system, this shuttle stands out with its submerged "wings," or foils, which allow it to lift slightly above the water and reach a maximum speed of 30 knots, or more than 50 km/h. Note that this project benefits from the transfer of technologies from the space industry.
For the moment, the project is still just a model, aiming to accommodate a hundred or so people (99 passengers and crew members) for a range of about 100 km. And while Almatech has the technology, the firm will need to team up with a manufacturer to make this shuttle "fly" one day.
For Luc Blecha, co-founder and technical director of Almatech, the schedule is now fixed: "In 2023, a first demonstration with a small five-seat shuttle should take place to validate all the technologies. Then, at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Japan, it will be time [to demonstrate] a large 100-seat shuttle."
Almatech is already in talks with the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN), which operates the boats on Lake Geneva, and has established other contacts in Japan and Nordic countries. Eventually, the ZESST family could include four different models, ranging from 50 to 400 passengers.
The ZESST project was on show at the Viva Technology event, June 16-19 in Paris.