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Russian anaerobic installation for submarines will receive a battery of increased capacity

Render of the Amur-950 submarine with an anaerobic power plant
TsKB MT “Rubin”

A promising Russian anaerobic power plant, which is planned to be installed on the experimental submarine of Project 677 Lada and a new non-nuclear submarine of the Kalina project, will receive a battery of doubled capacity. As Mil.Press FlotProm writes , the electric power of the advanced battery will be one hundred kilowatts instead of 50 for the existing sample today. The development and testing of a new battery for anaerobic power plants of submarines is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

Modern diesel-electric submarines have several advantages over larger nuclear submarines. One of the main such advantages is almost complete quiet running in the underwater position, since in this case only quiet electric motors, powered by batteries, are responsible for the movement of the ship. Recharging of these batteries is made from diesel generators in the above-water position or at a depth from which it is possible to expose the snorkel, a special tube through which air can be fed to the generators.

The shortcomings of conventional diesel-electric submarines include a relatively short time that a ship can carry underwater. At best, it can reach three weeks (by comparison, in nuclear submarines this figure is 60-90 days), after which the submarine will have to surf and launch diesel generators. Anaerobic power plant, which does not require outboard air, will allow a non-nuclear submarine to stay in the underwater position much longer. For example, a submarine of the Lada project with such an installation may be under water for 45 days.

A promising Russian anaerobic power plant will use high-purity hydrogen for operation. This gas will be received on board the ship from diesel fuel by reforming, that is, converting the fuel into hydrogen-containing gas and aromatic hydrocarbons, which will then pass through a hydrogen evolution unit. Then hydrogen will be fed to hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells, where it will generate electricity for engines and on-board systems.

A battery, otherwise known as an electrochemical generator, is developed by the Central Scientific Research Institute of Ship Electrical Engineering and Technology. This battery, which generates electricity due to the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, was called BTE-50K-E. Its power is 50 kilowatts. The power of the advanced battery will be one hundred kilowatts. The new battery will be part of the energy modules of promising non-nuclear submarines with a capacity of 250-450 kilowatts.In addition to the electrochemical elements themselves, otherwise called hydrogen fuel cells, such modules will include hydrocarbon fuel converters. It is in them and will be the process of reforming diesel fuel. As told Mil.Press FlotProm one of the developers of the new battery, the hydrocarbon fuel converter is currently under development. Earlier it was reported that the development of an anaerobic power plant for submarines is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2018.

In February last year, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology announced the development of a compact four-stroke piston unit for the catalytic reforming of methane and the production of hydrogen. New plants can be combined into a circuit, thereby increasing the yield of hydrogen. The installation is compact enough and does not require strong heating. The reactor operates on a four-cycle cycle. At the first stroke, methane, mixed with steam, is fed through the valves into the cylinder. Thus the piston in the cylinder smoothly falls. After the piston reaches the lower point, the flow of the mixture overlaps.

At the second cycle the piston rises, squeezing the mixture. At the same time, the cylinder is heated to 400 degrees Celsius. Under high pressure and heating conditions, the reforming process takes place. As hydrogen is released, it passes through a membrane that stops the carbon dioxide that also forms during the reforming. Carbon dioxide is then absorbed by the adsorbent material mixed with the catalyst.

At the third stroke the piston descends to the lowest position, sharply reducing the pressure in the cylinder. In this case, carbon dioxide is released from the adsorbent material. Then begins the fourth stroke, which opens the valve in the cylinder, and the piston starts to rise again. During the fourth bar, carbon dioxide from the cylinder is squeezed out into the atmosphere. After the fourth cycle, the cycle begins again.

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