Dock-to-Dock project wins government funding

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In an effort to build back better from COVID-19 and support innovative new enterprises, the government has announced funding to support projects harnessing the latest technology to support the fight against COVID-19 and other global challenges like climate change.

One of the winning projects recently announced to receive a share of the £33.5 million in funding from the UKRI Future Flight Challenge, was Dock-to-Dock, a project developed by UWE Bristol, Cardiff University, Neoptera Aero Ltd (based in BRL’s Hardware Incubator) and Smart Ports Ltd, which explores the delivery of goods between coastal cities using zero emission Hydrogen fuel technology.

Dock-to-Dock focuses on the combined aspects of route development, vehicle performance (air & sea) and the associated infrastructure (‘Smart-Multiports’) required for point-to-point delivery of goods and freight between coastal cities using eVTOL aircraft (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) and eAZE ships (electric Autonomous Zero Emission).

The project will launch on December 1st 2020, and will initially look at the delivery of goods by air, between Avonmouth Docks in Bristol and Cardiff Docks in Wales, using electric aircraft which take-off and land vertically, and therefore don’t require runways.

The objective of Dock-to-Dock is to repurpose port infrastructures to be an essential component of future Smart Cities in their drive towards zero emissions and energy efficient, integrated and sustainable transportation solutions. It will demonstrate a commercially competitive alternative to ground transportation between the two cities, offloading the already saturated ground transportation network between ports such as Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and Bridgewater.

A team of four UWE researchers will deliver on the use case definition and evaluation, route characterisation and eVTOL assessment activities for the Dock-to-Dock project. State-of-the-art modelling and simulation knowledge and methods, nurtured within the Engineering Modelling and Simulation Group and the Centre for Transport and Society, will be employed to ensure the success of the study and future implementation of the concept. Both research groups are proud to be part of the UKRI Future Flight Challenge and be able to contribute towards more sustainable future of aviation.”

Dr. Vilius Portapas, Dock-to-Dock Project Lead, UWE Bristol

With further development, Dock-to-Dock and its Smart-Multiport infrastructure could be a major supplier of Green Hydrogen to Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea airports, a service eagerly awaited by commercial aircraft designers such as Airbus and Rolls Royce who are racing to develop Hydrogen-powered sub-regional aircraft.

Presently there are only 11 commercial Hydrogen Refuelling Stations in the UK, and none west of Swindon. Many more are urgently needed if the UK is to meet its zero emissions targets through the production and use of Hydrogen in heating, industry, power generation and transport. The Dock-to-Dock project and development of Smart-Multiport infrastructure will bring much needed access to Hydrogen Refuelling Stations in the South West of England and Wales.

If you would like more information about the Dock-to-Dock project please email the project lead, Dr Vilius Portapas at

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