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IPFS News Link • Inventions

Biomimetic electric outboard ditches propeller for fin-driven thrust

•, By C.C. Weiss

Toward that end, it's developed an outboard motor that allows boats to move through the water more naturally and efficiently, similar to actual creatures of the sea. It cuts out the basic propeller and replaces it with a fin-like undulating membrane directly inspired dolphins and jellyfish. When agitated by the electric motor, the membrane develops safe, steady thrust that quietly pushes the vessel forward.

Something of a circular trip in reverse engineering that unfolded over the course of decades, the technology behind FinX stems back to the university work done by engineer Jean-Baptiste Drevet in the 1990s. Determined to make a more efficient fluid pump system, Drevet looked to the dolphin for inspiration in innovating the idea of an undulating membrane.

The work captured the interest of Erik Guillemin, who founded AMS R&D to further develop and commercialize the technology under the trademark Wavera. The membrane tech has since found use in industrial fluid pumps and medical blood pumps.

Guillemin's son Harold founded FinX in 2019 after working at AMS R&D for close to a decade. With his eyes on bringing the technology back to the sea from whence it was conceived, he arrived with an exclusive Wavera license for the boating industry in hand. In the ensuing years, FinX has adapted AMS' undulating membrane design to create a smoother, more efficient style of electric outboard it bills as the world's first propeller-less fin motor.

In place of a propeller, FinX's outboard relies on a linear motor to excite the ring-shaped elastomer membrane. This causes it to undulate and send wave energy through to the water, creating thrust via fluid flow. This quick video clip illustrates it in action: