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Interview by Curtis Hand

We caught up with OXE Diesel‘s Communication Manager and Board Member Mr Pim Polesie at the HSBO Forum 2021 a number of weeks ago and had a chance to speak with him about their unique engines, ideally suited for special operations forces and emergency services.

MSD: Why develop your outboard boat engine?

Polesie: From the start it was clear that the commercial marine market needed something that combined the endurance and low fuel use of an inboard stern drive solution with the flexibility and replaceability of an outboard. We knew there had to be a better way, an innovative solution that stepped away from the vertical shafts, the 90 degrees bevel gears and the dog clutches, and began developing the OXE Diesel outboards in 2011, a safer, service friendly product worthy of end user’s trust.

There is a gap in the market…No outboard units had been developed to sustain a high demanding or commercial user as most of the outboards were and still are pleasure craft products, built for pleasure craft use. These products are developed in accordance with ABYC, RCD and CE standards, stating that the outboard should endure 350 hours or 10 years, whichever comes first. For the pleasure craft segment these standards are reasonable, as the average user only uses their product between 5 or 50 hours per year, rendering over 7 years of use in this segment. The I/O solution, particularly the stern drives also offer very limited operating hours (480 hrs). However, the needs for a commercial user, operating daily, are something completely different.

A high-demanding or commercial user deserves a product that can be trusted, a product delivering reliability, power and control. Something which lasts more than the stipulated 350 hours and is in line with, or better than, the emission standards of our time. They need a work tool and not a toy. (note: bold text is his emphasis)

The result is the OXE Diesel outboard, built with commercial users in mind for those who require high durability, serviceability, yet provide maximal range and high torque.

In the process, we have transformed the outboard motor, thus filling a new segment in the marine industry, while impacting the journey towards a more sustainable and ecologically positive marine environment. All this without compromising on reliability, power, and control.

MSD: How is the Oxe Diesel outlook different from other outboard boat engine manufacturers? 

Polesie: The OXE Diesel cannot directly be compared to other products on the marine market. We utilise belt technology, effectively eliminating dog clutches, bevel gears and transfer shafts which are commonly known as weak links. The technology is a unique development that transforms the industry through increasing reliability, power and control without introducing the need for bigger and bulkier, shafts and bevel gears that introduces drag in the underwater body.

In OXE products the bevel gears were replaced with a drive-line designed and built for commercial users, increasing endurance and strength. The commonly used dog clutch system, used mainly on outboard systems, has been substituted with a sophisticated electro-hydraulically operated solution, placed over the waterline.

Our technology allows for increased torque transfer to the propeller, enabling smaller torpedoes and a slimmer submerged module. The use of diesel alone reduces fuel consumption and by using diesel engines from the automotive industry we see fuel savings by up to 50% and net emission reductions up to 92,4% compared to leisure products.

The OXE Diesel transmission technology was made possible through a marinised, modern automotive engine (OXE125-200 from GM and OXE300 from BMW). The in-line turbo or Bi-turbo diesel engines enable the products to meet the demands for power in the marine transportation industry. Our approach was to take advantage of the automotive diesel engines inherent high performance, reduced life and operational costs, and compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Combined with a reliable drive train the technology is suitable for a high demanding user.

In line with developing an outboard to be reliable, powerful and allowing for full control, it was thought desirable that the OXE Diesel units should allow for low engaging speed, trolling capability, and to be able to cope with crash stops if need be without risking gearbox failure. All to increase the safety of the crew and vessel.

MSD: What are the USPs / main advantages of the OXE Diesel engine?

Polesie: Well, here is a summary of USPs… The powerful high torque of the diesel engine manifests itself throughout the OXE Diesel engine series. Together with the robust transmission and interchangeable gear ratios, it provides the users with reliable options to use the engine as both a powerful workhorse and a high-speed solution.

It gives increased load capacity and greatly reduced fuel consumption compared to gasoline, increasing the range by 60-80%. Our products are also more sustainable, with much lower emissions than their gasoline counterparts, and are also in ground-breaking certified compliance with regulations set forth in EPA TIER III, IMO TIER II (MARPOL VI TIER 2), RCD, and CCS.

The OXE Diesel is designed to be dependable in critical situations and comes with the ingenious Quick-Shift-Capability (QSC) and Low-Speed-Control (LSC) features. As a result, the user has a refined and smooth control over the vessel with full manoeuvrability, even below 4 knots. Since diesel is less flammable than gasoline and the OXE Diesel engine is non-spark ignited, this combination greatly reduces the fire hazard and provides for a safer working environment.

But the Main USP’s are safety, fuel economy, serviceability, versatility and the advantages of using diesel.

“Safety” in that the OXE Diesel is designed to be safe in any environment. Robust design, low-speed control and a quick-shift capability lead to safe operations under adverse conditions. Diesel is a more available and a less flammable fuel than gasoline, therefore, it is much safer to work with than gasoline within all working environments.

The Low Speed Control (LSC) and Quick Shift Capability (QSC) provide a refined and smooth maneuverability. The high torque of the engine also ensures there is enough power for maneuvering under high loads and/or low speeds, even under 4 knots.

OXE Diesel models are built to last. The service intervals of 200 hours for routine service and 800 hours for extended service and expected service life exceeding 3000 hours is a testament to the reliability of the system. The long service life provides confidence and safety for commercial users who need to know that they are not working with worn-out tools.

Then there is “Fuel Economy”. Due to a significantly lower fuel consumption than an outboard built for the leisure market, OXE Diesel offers the user unprecedented running cost and range. The fact that OXE Diesel runs on diesel also provides the user with the ability to refuel from larger diesel-powered vessels or marine-based platforms that further increases the versatility.

This greatly increases operational runtimes for operators who predominantly use diesel as the main fuel. The OXE Diesel also has great fuel economy and uses up to 50% less fuel than a modern, leisure, gasoline outboard.

This is followed by “Serviceability”, as it is a fact that user-friendliness and easily accessible service points increase the likelihood of well-maintained products. To meet commercial customers’ demands, the OXE Diesel was designed with ease of maintenance and service in mind. All service access points for daily maintenance checks are located in the front of the engine. This makes service and maintenance as easy and straightforward as possible, even in the harshest of conditions.

The modular design makes it possible to approach service and maintenance in a flexible way, as entire modules can be swapped out and serviced on land, hence keeping operational runtimes up. The standardised transom mounts are interchangeable. Service and overhauls of the OXE Diesel can thereby be performed away from the boat and the unit can simply be replaced in the meantime, which further minimises the downtime of the boat and increases the uptime for the operation.

So, this leads us to “Versatility” because the common rail turbocharged diesel engine provides high efficiency and torque. This results in powerful thrust and acceleration, with the capacity to carry heavy loads. Fast interchangeable gear ratios allow for specific performance requirements and the powerful torque of the OXE Diesel engine to be utilised in the best possible way. This increases the versatility of the OXE Diesel further as it opens up for a smorgasbord of applications.

As the OXE Diesel is designed as an outboard package with standardised transom mounts, it is interchangeable. Service and overhauls of the OXE Diesel can thereby be performed away from the boat and the unit can simply be replaced in the meantime. This minimises the downtime of the boat and increases the uptime for the operation.

Clockwise and counterclockwise propeller rotation are available on all engines, the user is free to place the engine on any side of the stern, thus reducing the need for several spare engines to ensure redundancy. Due to the belt tensioner system in the OXE300, changing the rotation is somewhat more time-consuming.

But this is nothing to say of the Diesel Fuel advantages…Single fuel – since most commercially used marine engines run on diesel, there is the possibility for a single fuel fleet, if the outboard engines run on diesel as well. This eliminates the need and logistics around handling two types of fuel and makes it possible for every vessel in the fleet to refuel from each other. This is also in line with the NATO single fuel policy, stating that all units that can run on diesel should run on diesel, which came into effect in 2015.

Flexible fuel – the OXE Diesel engines run on EN 590, ASTM D 975 No. 1 and No. 2, and JIS KK 2204, F54 and F75, which provides users with high flexibility and readily available fuel. HVO100 and other BioDiesels fuels are sustainable options to utilise which significantly reduces the environmental impact.  When running on BioDiesels it is recommended to install a pre-filter in the diesel tank to avoid the risk of growth in the fuel tank.

Less flammable than gasoline – Diesel is a less flammable fuel and therefore safer to work within hazardous environments than for example gasoline. As the OXE Diesel is non-spark ignited, the engine models are also allowed into restricted environments that are out of reach for spark-ignited products such as gasoline outboards.

Higher energy density – Diesel has a higher energy density than gasoline which provides the engine with higher efficiency and torque, ensuring enhanced acceleration and lower fuel consumption. The inherited energy density of diesel also means increased range, compared to an equally powerful engine that runs on gasoline. The higher energy density of diesel facilitates extended operational periods and increases the time duration between refuelling.

MSD: So does this make OXE Diesel engines “Environmentally friendly”?

Polesie: OXE Marine is driven by the ambition to transform the outboard motor; impacting the journey towards a more sustainable and ecologically positive marine environment. HVO and Biodidesel help to reduce the impact on global warming by reducing net carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Unlike traditional diesel, Biodiesel is renewable and biodegradable. A joint study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Energy determined that biodiesel reduces net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere by 78.5% compared with petroleum diesel fuel.3.

Using Biodiesel further reduces environmental impact by lowering net carbon footprint by up to 90%. On top of the significantly reduced emissions, OXE Marine products already offer, OXE Diesels, fueled with HVO and Biodiesel fuels results in a reduced net carbon dioxide by up to 94,2% or up to 257 082Kg/1000hrs of operation when comparing an OXE200 to a 200 hp gasoline outboard.

Besides being a more sustainable fuel option, HVO and Biodiesel are safer to handle than petroleum fuel due to their low volatility. With a flashpoint well above the boiling point of water, Biodiesel is significantly safer to store, handle and transport.

MSD: For whom is such a boat motor best suited?

Polesie: OXE Diesel is best suited for high demanding and commercial users, planning to use their boats. Anyone who plans to use their outboards for more than 500 hours basically benefit financially from using an OXE when compared to leisure outboards. The environmental benefit from the first hour in use as emissions are significantly reduced. We usually say that our key users are:

Government organisations, such as customs and border patrol, coast guard, police and fire departments, require safe, efficient, flexible and reliable means of transportation. On the water, there are few alternatives to gasoline outboards that combine both speed and flexibility.

Search and Rescue operations are usually dual-purpose in nature, and the missions often demand both speed and strength. The engines must be robust to endure harsh conditions in order to get to the target’s position fast and torquey enough to tug, push or carry the target back to safety.

In terms of IMO/EPA regulated tenders or vessels, the OXE Diesel is fully-compliant with IMO and EPA legislation. In order to avoid stringent IMO/EPA regulations, vessels use gasoline outboards, as they are exempt from the high environmental demands of IMO or EPA emissions regulations.

In the oil and gas industry, safety regulations prevent the use of gasoline engines as they are spark ignited. The OXE Diesel engine series is the first and only commercially available outboard able to be used in the oil and gas industry, as they operate with compression ignited diesel fuel.

Most vessels are hindered by regulations to carry gasoline onboard if regulated fire safe containment is not provided. The use of gasoline is therefore a challenge for any vessel with tenders. The OXE Diesel engine series is the first commercially available outboard for vessels to meet these regulations.

Even Marine Eco-tourism can take advantage of the OXE Diesel engine series, the high torque and load-bearing capacity, combined with high-speed potential, provides ecotourism sea transportation with the perfect engine for their needs.

Many companies that work within the aquaculture industry want boats that can transport workers quickly to their facilities, which can often be 50-60 nautical miles from port. The boats and engines must endure all types of weather, while at the same time providing dependable transportation for the passengers.

The OXE Diesel offers high efficiency, low fuel consumption, high-power output and high torque, providing several advantages for harbour and marine structure maintenance.

The OXE Diesel delivers high efficiency, low fuel consumption, high power output and high torque, providing several advantages for survey vessels. By running on diesel, the OXE Diesel engine series can also operate in regulated areas, such as harbours and in close proximity to on-water structures.

But as the OXE engines are designed for commercial users it is really anyone with a higher demand than the what the average leisure user requires. In short anyone who needs to use the engines more than 500 hrs. We should also note that our collaboration with BMW and GM prevents us from selling OXE engines to offensive military applications.

MSD: Where is it currently in service?

Polesie: Our engines are available all over the world. Our strongest markets are North America through Diesel Outboards LLC and Mack Boring & Parts Company, Middle East through Exalto Emirates, Oceania through Power Equipment PTY LTD. and UK and Ireland through Proteum.

We also have a several products at excursion tenders e.g at Hurtigruten where our engines has been used for several years, but also at research vessels and yacht tenders who need reliable tenders, no matter the condition.

Another important market for us is the aquaculture sector where fish farmers has realised the potential in our unique speed and weight carrying capabilities due to our high torque output.

MSD: Thank you for these colourful examples and unique technical explanations to help our readers understand this game-changing engine.