New Marine Drive Technology Uses Steam
Pursuit Dynamics is developing a propellerless recreational marine drive that injects steam into a ring resembling a propeller duct, suspended below the boat. The steam rapidly cools, collapses, and creates a void in the water. Water rushes through the ring to fill the void, propelling the boat. A controlled amount of air is supplied into the area of low pressure to improve efficiency. Detailed descriptions and animated drawings are available from Pursuit Dynamics' web site. The drive is being developed in the U.K. and anticipates conducting sea trials in November 2002.
Unlike most developing technologies on the drawing board around the world, this one specifically targets recreational marine outboard and stern drive markets. Pursuit Dynamics is currently working on doubling the overall efficiency of the technology and finding a joint venture partner with manufacturing, distribution and service capabilities.
The drive was invented in Australia Dr. Alan Burns and initially funded by Carnegie Corporation Limited. Due to Dr. Burns' involvement, the drive was originally called the Burns Jet Drive. Pursuit Dynamics Ltd. was incorporated 17 August 2000 to acquire the rights to the drive, then owned equally by Dr. Burns and Carnegie Corporation Ltd. Those rights were acquired in November 2000 on a deferred consideration basis from Dr. Burns. Development then started at Pursuit Dynamics in Freemantle Western Australia.
Pursuit Dynamics plc was organized in the UK to move the business end of the operation to the UK. Pursuit Dynamics plc acquired Pursuit Dynamics Ltd. on 14 May 2001. On 23 May 2002, Pursuit Dynamics plc had an IPO (initial public offering) on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London stock exchange.
Pursuit Dynamics plc paid Dr. Burns the earlier deferred consideration of 250,000 pounds and 5,108,300 shares to acquire his 50 percent of the rights to the drive. Pursuit Dynamics plc also paid Carnegie Corporation 150,000 pounds and 2,754,150 stock shares an additional 25 percent of the rights.
In July of 2001, Pursuit Dynamics plc paid Carnegie Corporation 2,754,150 stock shares and a one percent gross royalty on any revenues arising from the technology‘s commercial development for the final 25 percent of the rights to the technology.
In August of 2001 the board of directors decided to move the research part of the operation from Australia to the UK to be closer to technical support and so they could provide more direct oversight. As development in Australia grew to a close, Dr. Burns the original Australian inventor resigned from the board of directors on 7 September 2001. Their 2001 annual report says he is still available for consultation as needed.
Pursuit Dynamic Ltd.'s web site has several papers about the drive as well as financial / investment information.
This technology is taking a relatively unusual path to market. Most fundamental level technologies are championed by their inventor. Typically their technical development far outruns their marketing and funding. They eventually pair up with a group to help them over the financial and marketing hurdles. In this case, the project is being developed primarily by a financial operation. The initial intellectual property was purchased and the technical work is being outsourced. It will be interesting to see how this one comes out.
Links to several miscellaneous news items, patents and other coverage of the drive are provided with brief descriptions below.
A very extensive investor report on the drive is available from the "I agree" link at the bottom of Numis Securities investment page for the firm.
Patents from several jurisdictions were issued surrounding the device in late 2001 and early 2002.
World Patent System WO 0194197 issued 13 Dec. 2001 Australia AU6366001 issued 17 Dec. 2001 Great Britain GB02045037 issued 26 Feb. 2002 Most of the text and drawings for the World Patent can be viewed from the European Patent Office. enter: Pursuit Dynamics in the company search box to find it and the Australian patent.
4 Million Pound Float for Oz-UK Venture Business Weekly (a UK publication) May 21, 2001The Burns Jet Drive is intended for leisure and light commercial vessels. It is based upon injecting steam in the middle of a duct below the boat. When the steam enters the cold water, it collapses, pulling additional water through the ring, basically pulling the vessel along. John Gunn is said to be a major investor
Pursuit Makes Good Progress With Marine Propulsion Test Programme Business Weekly (a UK publication) 15 Feb. 2002This article reports on their accelerated test program.
New Propulsion System Aims to Revolutionize Market International Boat Industry June/July 2002 Pg. 7Reports the drive could be ready for sea trials by this November. Pursuit Dynamics Executive Director, John Heathcote told IBI, when they can meet the efficiencies of two and four stroke outboards they can go to market. He estimates pricing would be one-half that of an outboard. They floated on the stock exchange last month and raised 4 million pounds. Pursuit Dynamics is now looking for a joint venture partner with their own distribution, maintenance and service network. The column included a photo of Mr. Heathcote.
RBBI Note: I think IBI may be confused about the date of the IPO float. Believe we first covered the IPO in May 2001.
We also noticed Dr. Alan Robert Burns seems to have an earlier patent (U.S. Patent 5,685,616) dealing with a non-pneumatic surface for tracks and wheels. It was granted in November of 1997 and assigned to Altrack Limited of Western Perth Australia. The patent is limited in time duration to an earlier patent of his in the same field, U.S. Patent 5,154,490 granted Oct. 13, 1992. It was also assigned to Altrack Ltd.
I noticed a lecture to be given in 2003 on the Pursuit Drive. Lecture is sponsored by IMarEST (The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology). Announcement is below.
The Pursuit Marine Drive - A Novel Marine Propulsion System 8 April 2003 Moat House Hotel, Peterborough (think is in the UK) Lecture presented by Mike Todman, Pursuit Dynamics and will commence at 19.30hrs. The Pursuit Marine Drive is a new marine drive concept for small and medium sized vessels. The drive has few moving parts and is expected to be lighter and cheaper to maintain than existing drives. The presentation will outline the working principles and projected applications. Organised By: Peterborough Joint Panel Contact:Kevin Durham
Jet Age Steam Power for Marine Propulsion Ship Design and Operation for Environmental Sustainability Conference Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA) London UK Mike Todman and Alex Wallis of Pursuit Dynamics 5 Sept. 2002 Link above is to a copy on Pursuit Dynamics web site courtesy of RINAThe paper was presented by Mike Todman. RINA is a time honored marine society primarily focused on larger vessels. The paper discusses the basic operation of the drive and presents the concept of using waste heat from diesel engines powering props in large vessels to generate steam which could them be used to create additional thrust from Pursuit Drives. This approach would allow downsizing the large diesels (read decrease initial, fuel and maintenance costs) while maintaining similar performance. Their drive is now being called the PDX drive.
They also mention the possibility of using the technology in pumping raw oil (combined with some water and gas). In this application waste heat from pump engines could be similarly used.
Independent of this meeting, Pursuit recently announced reaching the efficiency milestone of equaling two stroke outboard efficiencies. They anticipate additional increases in efficiency as the technology continues to develop.
RBBI Comment - Hopefully other marine firms will recognize the benefits from presenting well done papers on their technologies at professional societies (not just at boat shows).
Pursuit Dynamics one step closer to marine engine breakthrough International Boat Industry October 2002 Pg. 7This brief five paragraph coverage announces the University of Heftforshire has verified the latest prototype (PDX3) is capable of running at two stroke carburetted outboard efficiencies.
RBBI Comment: just guessing, but suspect the Fluid Mechanics Research group at UH is involved. Although they appear to have their roots in aviation, many of the principles and simulations are quite similar, they have a few marine folks on staff and their page says they have completed several studies on two-phase flows..
A New Head of Steam European Boatbuilder October 2002 Pgs. 16-18The feature article with six color photos discusses the current development status of the Pursuit Drive. This is the first, full length article we have seen concerning the drive in a recreational marine publication. Seems like the drive is "coming of age" and being recognized by the industry, at least in Europe. European Boatbuilder is a sister publication of International Boat Industry magazine and Boating Industry International magazine.
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