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The COVID pandemic halted many projects over the past two years, and those that did continue did so at a much-reduced pace. Such was the case at Aqueduct Marina when work began on an important project funded by the European Regional Development Fund just before the first lockdown.

Working with partners across the EU, Aqueduct and the Canal and River Trust embarked on constructing a workboat testbed to allow various power systems to be trialled in real-world situations. The projects aims are to reduce or eliminate the pollutants from conventional internal combustion engines. The objective is to achieve this by using Oxy-fuel combustion technology for diesel engines and capturing and storing all CO2 emissions. It is also hoped that as a result, fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 15%. The project’s goal is to design, develop, and integrate dedicated carbon capture and storage systems into inland waterway vessels, both commercial and leisure.

However, despite the test boat’s construction getting underway some time ago, work had to stop when lockdowns were imposed; even after lifting restrictions, progress has been slow due to supply chain issues. However, work on the project, including vessel adaptations, has commenced with a tilt test recently taking place at Aqueduct Marina.

As well as undertaking the practicalities of the preparatory work, progress has also been made on the funding and timeline of the remainder of the RIVERS project. Funding is now all in place to complete this project by December 2022. With that in mind, the team at Aqueduct are on track to complete the work on the boat by April 2022. This will then allow enough time to fit all of the testing equipment. This equipment has arrived at the workshops in Cheshire in preparation for installation onto the testbed boat.

 With the world’s attention focused on the COP26 conference over recent months, it is timely that this important work is underway once again. The hope is that it will help develop new modes of propulsion and the capture and storage of carbon and other damaging gasses. Hopefully, these developments will eventually see their way into mainstream use in the not too distant future.

*Featured in Towpath Talk

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