In Focus: No barriers to use, says Rim Drive Technology’s Stijn Leenders

“There are virtually no barriers to the use of our product,” says Stijn Leenders, marketing support for Rim Drive Technology (RDT), headquartered in the Netherlands. “It may take some time to get used to an electric engine. But there are only benefits. Our electric motors are easy to install, with only one rotating part, reducing the need for maintenance.”

He’s expecting take up to span any vessel up to 25m including “catamarans to submarines from sloops to ferries (JFD Submarines and Hyke Hydrolift are already onboard),” and to appeal to many different commercial and private customers.

A rim drive contains its electric winding in the outer (stator) housing. This housing is cast to avoid any use of sealings. The inner housing, which contains the magnet, is also potted (with epoxy) to avoid any internal corrosion, says Leenders. The bearing system is water lubricated and will last for thousands of hours by normal use. And because of the shaftless design, he says the company’s product will never suffer from stuck fishing nets, plastic or other products that can cause an engine to seize.

“You have the outside where wrappers are incorporated,” Leenders explains. “On the rotor are magnets. Through tension you create a spinning magnetic field which carries the rotor along. The propeller is attached directly to the magnets, so when it rotates, the propeller generates thrust.”

RDT’s design developments came from experience gained by working intensively with existing rim drive motors in 2017. “The next year we realised all the advantages of rim drive motors and detected technology gaps in existing solutions.

“Thanks to successful pilot projects and investments from private and commercial parties, we were able to bring our product to market in 2019. In the next few years, we constantly improved our designs, processes, and supply chain. We improved the propellers and in addition we added different configurations such as a fixed pod, steerable pod, outboard and bowthruster. We use the same pods for all these configurations.”

Leenders (pictured) says Rim Drive provides an easy-to-assemble package for boatbuilders, mainly a plug and play system that is straightforward to integrate into any boat and it consists of a few compartments which, he says, makes it easier to repair for the end user. Currently the product portfolio consists of motors between 0.5kW and 50kW, available in POD, Steerable POD, outboard and bow thruster configuration. A 75kW model will be launched in 2024.

“The ones who should use our products are the ones who want to sail in peace and quiet without worrying about the environment,” says Leenders. “They’re also people who soon need to switch to an electric motor because of emission regulations.

“Our product is 100 per cent electric and is compatible with petrol engines. In contrast to petrol engines, our engines do not need any sealing to function (or petrol), which makes them eco-friendly for the environment. Our product is the future for the maritime sector, for a world that’s consistently busy with improving the future of water transport to be more eco-friendly.

“Unfortunately, there are also those who doubt whether they should switch to an electric drive system for their boat because they do not yet see the value in it or because they are not yet convinced enough to undergo this improved step. Our purpose is to help as many people and companies as possible with the transition to electric boating.”

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