Electric Propulsion Makes French Submarine Concept Extra Sneaky

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For navies that want to be able to build powerful submarines, but cannot afford nuclear-powered ships, they lack the ability to build one, or have other limitations, France's naval group Has an answer: SMX31E, which could theoretically remain submerged. As long as a nuclear-powered boat without having to come up for air. This 3,530-ton (which is submerged), the 262-foot long vessel is still a concept - a boat that exists only on paper. But the technical components needed to make it "have already matured, are under development, or are expected to mature in the next few years," program manager Stephen Meunier tells Popular Science.

 

In 2018, the Naval Group introduced SMX31, the first edition of the world's largest naval and maritime trade show, which is held in Paris every two years. Such was the interest among potential customers and even among competitors that he followed and respected the idea. This year, Euronoval was held only as an on-line program in October, but the boat, named SMX31E, was back as a project working for a submarine that would be operational by 2040 - 2045 Might be possible. It has been given a reasonable timeframe to design it and another decade to build a new submarine.

 


Since 2018, Moonier says, "tremendous progress has been made in some key technologies, such as coatings, unmanned sub-water vehicles [USV] and batteries." And so these innovations are worked out in the new version, suggesting that in 2040 military strategists think the navy might look like a war. "This is when we expect the sea surface to be fully under observation and, given the art of surprise, warfare, then we will be increasingly underwater," Mounier explains.

 

The SMX31E does not look like the submarines we are familiar with. It resembles a whale's breath tail, and in fact, architects studied these extraordinary marine mammals to mimic their extraordinary hydrodynamics. In the traditional sense, there is no rear propeller, and there is no need for the sail, which is a rectangular chimney-like structure that sits on top of every submarine, as the direct-view periscope has been replaced with camera-equipped optronic masters.

 

Further enhancing biomimetics, the SMX31E is covered in tiles that look like fish scales. "These skin materials play a great role in reducing the noise that the submarine makes at a high speed even when it slips through the water," Meunier says.

 

To achieve these speeds, the SMX31E has two, rim-driven propulsion (RDP) electric motors. With an RDP, the propeller is inside a duct, and the duct itself has a motor that powers the prop blade. It looks like an aircraft engine but has no center-prop blades attached to the outer rim. This technique removes the need for a mechanical connection, or shaft, between the power generator and the propeller.

 


Accordingly, the RDP system can reduce the boat's acoustic noise signature, remain a key element for the submarine by stealth and, according to the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, improve hydrodynamic efficiency by up to 7%, making the boat higher Speed ​​can be reached.

 

RDPs are powered by electricity. In today's submarines, it is produced by either nuclear power, air-independent power (AIP), or diesel engines that charge lead-acid batteries. The problem with the latter two is that both of them have to surface to recharge the battery using a diesel generator. Fresh oxygen needs to be taken on board and the accumulated carbon monoxide, as well as the exhaust coming from running the diesel generator.



The submarine is weakest when it is on the surface. It has to slow down. This surface and then the snorkel, exhaust, and rudder can be seen. So, to avoid being snorkel at all, the SMX31E will not use any of these techniques. It will be fully battery operated. "The SMX31E will have a huge lithium-ion battery pack," says Meunier, stating that the huge increase in lithium-ion battery technology over the last few years has meant these batteries remain submerged up to 60 meters, cruising the boat at 5. Can enable Nautical miles (5.7mph) or 30 days cruises at 8 knots (9.2mph). It has to be plugged into recharge.


This puts it on par with a nuclear submarine: 60 days is about how long those boats can remain submerged as they cannot supply food for more than two months!

 

 

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