The EF-24 Passenger vessel uses cutting-edge hydrofoil technology to lift the craft out of the water, enabling it to sail above the waves.
Maritime design company Artemis Technologies has described it as a “game changer” .
Raising the hull above the water dramatically cuts drag, delivering estimated fuel cost savings of up to 85% compared to conventional diesel-powered ferries.
Artemis’s eco-friendly eFoiler technology generates zero emissions when the ferry is sailing while also producing minimal wake and noise.
Artemis Technologies, which is based in Belfast, is a spin-off from the Artemis Racing team that competed in the America’s Cup.
Its founder and CEO Dr Iain Percy is a two-time Team GB Olympic sailing champion and four-time America’s Cup veteran.
The ferry will come into service in 2024, running a pilot service between Belfast and the nearby city of Bangor.
The 24-metre vessels will be able to carry 150 passengers. The first ferry built will be called Zero.
It will have a top speed of 38 knots and a battery range of 115 nautical miles at a 25-knots cruise speed.
The ferry, which was formally launched to the global market on Monday, is among several zero-emission vessels being developed by Artemis Technologies as part of a £60 million project to design and manufacture commercially-viable green transport solutions for the maritime industry.
Earlier this year, it launched what it hailed as a “world first” commercially-viable hydrofoil workboat.
The Pioneer can now be seen cruising above the waves on Belfast Lough outside Artemis’s manufacturing plant in the city’s docklands.
Like America’s Cup racing yachts, the technology involves attaching hydrofoil wings to the hull with vertical struts.
Much like a plane taking off on a runway, the underwater wings drive the vessel up and out of the water as it picks up speed.
Dr Percy believes Artemis can be a world leader in delivering transport alternatives for congested cities.
“The zero-emission ferry that will be seen departing Belfast in 2024, aptly named Zero, will be the first we build at our manufacturing hub in the city, but it is only the start,” he said.
“Many water-based cities around the world are grappling with the challenge of growing populations, congestion and pollution.
“The EF-24 Passenger can provide an immediate green transport solution that competes economically with road and rail in places like San Francisco, New York, Venice, Istanbul, Dubai and Singapore – anywhere around the globe that is seeking sustainable transport alternatives that balance the requirement for people to continue to move around with the need to reduce carbon emissions.
The ferries will be fully accessible, with facilities on board including bike racks, cabin bag and overhead storage, baby-changing facilities and charging points.
The vessels will also feature a new high-speed collision avoidance system.
Artemis is creating 125 jobs initially but has plans to sustain 1,000 new roles in the coming decade.
Commenting on the design plan for the electric ferry, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said: “My congratulations to Artemis Technologies and Belfast Maritime Consortium on unveiling the plans for this exciting zero emissions vessel.
“The development of such world-leading technology will ensure that Belfast remains at the forefront of maritime innovation while providing a boost to the local green economy.”