Full speed ahead: High-temperature superconductors ensure efficient propulsion in all-electric ships

Apr 11, 2007

Researchers from Siemens have developed a new type of propulsion motor for all-electric ships (AES). The synchronous machine is part of an electric propulsion system based on high temperature superconducting technology (HTS). The HTS engine generates four megawatts of power at a torque of over 300 kilonewton meters. The scientists are presenting the project at the Hannover Messe (April 16 – 20).

HTS technology offers numerous advantages for modern shipbuilding. The superconductors of the rotor windings carry a current density 100 times greater than that in conventional copper windings. As a result, significant weight and volume reductions are possible. In addition, there are no electrical losses with HTS, so that means greater efficiency.

The enclosed, self-regulating system, which cools the superconducting rotor windings of the motor to a temperature of 27K, promises cheaper cooling with low maintenance. HTS motors therefore create totally new flexibility in ship design and the layout of the systems on board. As a result, it is possible to design more energy-efficient ships with more effective capacity utilization that have less environmental impact and are cheaper to operate.

With the development of the world’s first HTS generator rated at four megawatts, Siemens made a considerable contribution to the all-electric ship with superconductors. The generator, which has been successfully tested by Siemens at its Nuremberg system test center, is now enhanced by another new development from Siemens, the HTS propulsion motor. With 30 times higher torque compared with the generator, the HTS motor is also considerably smaller and lighter than a conventional electric propeller motor. The first HTS motor is currently under construction. In 2009, the developers plan to run an intensive test program on the machine on a test bed for large-scale propulsion units.

The new propulsion motor represents a further milestone in the development of HTS technology for use in all electric ships. Cruise ships or megayachts already make use of the advantages of electric propulsion. The trend is also apparent in naval vessels, with first ships already at the planning stage. The all-electric concept is useful in ships with a strongly fluctuating energy requirement. Luxury liners tend to cross the seas at a leisurely pace, making calls at a large number of ports and putting in the occasional sprint in between. They therefore need a variable form of propulsion power.

The power requirement for on-board catering and accommodation is also not constant. However, the electrical power generated with HTS generators can be distributed flexibly throughout the ship according to requirements. Passengers also profit from HTS technology. Electrically propelled ships are inherently quieter than their diesel counterparts anyway, and the superconductors reduce vibrations and engine noise even further.

Source: Siemens

Explore further: SensaBubble: It's a bubble, but not as we know it (w/ video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Secret life of cells revealed with new technique

37 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —A new technique that allows researchers to conduct experiments more rapidly and accurately is giving insights into the workings of proteins important in heart and muscle diseases.

Abundance of Chesapeake Bay's underwater grasses increases

37 minutes ago

An annual survey led by researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that the abundance of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay increased 24 percent between 2012 and 2013, reversing ...

Security and privacy concerns regarding connected vehicles

17 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —A majority of Americans, Australians and Britons believe that connected-vehicle technology will make driving safer, but most are also concerned about security and privacy, according to a University ...

Recommended for you

A smart prosthetic knee with in-vivo diagnoses

Apr 22, 2014

The task was to develop intelligent prosthetic joints that, via sensors, are capable of detecting early failure long before a patient suffers. EPFL researchers have taken up the challenge.

Old tires become material for new and improved roads

Apr 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —Americans generate nearly 300 million scrap tires every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Historically, these worn tires often end up in landfills or, when illegally ...

Students take clot-buster for a spin

Apr 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —In the hands of some Rice University senior engineering students, a fishing rod is more than what it seems. For them, it's a way to help destroy blood clots that threaten lives.

User comments : 0

More news stories

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Phase transiting to a new quantum universe

(Phys.org) —Recent insight and discovery of a new class of quantum transition opens the way for a whole new subfield of materials physics and quantum technologies.

Imaging turns a corner

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.