Wednesday, October 1, 2008

All the (Electric) Ships at Sea

This National Defense Magazine article from late last year describes the ambitious R&D being conducted by ONR and NAVSEA to substantially improve the way USN ships are powered. According to ONR's John Pazik, the org has created five focus areas for researching advanced naval power for all-electric ships:
  • power generation
  • distribution and control
  • energy storage
  • heat transfer and thermal management
  • motors and actuators
While some of the technologies will be difficult to master (e.g., fuel cells, capacitors, solar power, alternative fuels, etc.) I have no doubt they'll achieve success over time. What I have less confidence about is whether we'll be able to procure them in significant numbers in our lifetimes. Has anyone noticed that our ability to design, buy and build new ships is just about broken? Let's fix that soon, OK? We've got some fuel efficient ships to launch.

Image courtesy of Northrop Grumman

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