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Research Supporting the Development of High Energy Density Power Systems for UUV Propulsion

Principal Investigator(s): 


This research investigates the suitability of a novel Rankine Cycle power system based on the exothermic reaction of Aluminum metal powder with sea water for use in Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). A thermodynamic analysis of the system is performed using a specialized modeling tool developed by the NASA Glenn Research Center called Numerical Propulsion System Solver (NPSS). Thermodynamic models of the individual components of the system are created and linked together in NPSS. The model results support the performance claims made by two commercial vendors that factors of 5 or greater increases in range possible if present battery-based power systems are replaced with Aluminum combustion-based power systems. Present work is focused on performing a sensitivity analysis of the system to identify optimum design configurations.

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First intended application of the aluminum combustion propulsion system: the US Navy’s 'Seahorse' UUV