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: New tech aims to improve communication between dogs and humans

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Will Apple Pay be mobile pay's kick-start?

7 hours ago

If anyone can get us to use our smartphones as wallets, it's Apple. That's what experts think about the recent launch of Apple Pay, the first mobile wallet to work on an iPhone.

Google execs discuss regulation, innovation and bobble-heads

9 hours ago

Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg help run Google, one of the world's best-known, most successful - and most controversial - companies. They've just published a new book, "How Google Works," a guide to managing what they ...

Developing the battery of the future

9 hours ago

The search for the next generation of batteries has led researchers at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron to try new methods and materials that could lead to the development of safer, cheaper, more powerful, ...

Gamers' funding fuels meteoric rise of 'Star Citizen'

9 hours ago

Chris Roberts' brain spun out a grand vision: a rich, immersive galaxy; exquisite spaceships traversing between infinite star systems with thousands of computer gamers manning the cockpits, racing, dogfighting and defending ...

Recommended for you

Study says upgrading infrastructure could reduce flood damage

Oct 29, 2014

The severe flooding that devastated a wide swath of Colorado last year might have been less destructive if the bridges, roads and other infrastructure had been upgraded or modernized, according to a new study from the University ...

Walk through buildings from your own device

Oct 29, 2014

Would you like to visit The Frick Collection art museum in New York City but can't find the time? No problem. You can take a 3-D virtual tour that will make you feel like you are there, thanks to Yasutaka ...

'Ambulance drone' prototype unveiled in Holland

Oct 28, 2014

A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an "ambulance drone", a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.