New sub propulsion system?

Grey Havoc

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Oct 9, 2009
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Future Submarine Propulsion System?

By AW1 Tim

Categories: Uncategorized

Well….. My shipmate, YN2 H Lucien Gauthier III had a nifty find which I believe should be seriously looked at.

Mitsubishi, through it’s Public Affairs Committee, serves notice it has developed a fossil-fuel free motor. It works, though it’s still in development.

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) and the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have recently made a significant announcement—the completion of a first prototype CO2-free engine called the Magnesium Injection Cycle (MAGIC) engine. Although still at the experimental stage, this joint project, initiated in 2005, has developed a prototype that has successfully worked without the need for fossil fuels.

Power is generated by the chemical reaction between magnesium and water, which produces high-power steam and hydrogen. The hydrogen is burned at the same time to produce more high-power steam, and the two steam sources power the engine. The new technology produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful emissions and the only by-products from this reaction are water and magnesium oxide. The magnesium is separated from the oxide through a solar-powered laser process and is reused over and over again as fuel. This clean energy cycle, which is supported by solar power, has the potential to steer society away from its dependence on fossil fuels, and could bring about a paradigm shift in the way future energy needs are met.

The new MAGIC technology is very versatile, and has potential for use in cogeneration, automobiles, ships and many other areas. MC and the Tokyo Tech team believes it will take another three years of further research and experimentation before it is launched for commercial use.

Now, the corporation is talking about powering the laser used to support the system with solar power. That’s all well and good, but it seems to me that running a feed off an SSTG could provide all the power that that laser would need.

If this system works as they believe it will, it might be able to replace not only diesel engines in conventional submarines, but potentially, scaled up, replace nuclear plants.

This looks very promising to me, and I will be keeping an eye on this project as it develops.


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ACCESS: Top Secret
Jul 15, 2009
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"The hydrogen is burned at the same time"

For subs, that would need pure oxygen rather than compressed air to avoid exhausting a stream of nitrogen. My guess is that LOX would be preferred for compactness. IIRC, Submariners happen to be chary of the stuff. Seems unkind to mention it, but magnesium and sea-water do not play well together, so water purity will be a consideration...

Uh, the 'magnesium engine' keeps turning up. One problem, IIRC, is that the magnesium must be processed as 'fines', but has a problem with spattered oxide muckin' up the system. Only comparison I can think of is steam engines which ran on coal-dust...


ACCESS: Confidential
Jan 31, 2011
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The idea of burning metals with water for submarine propulsion is probably not new. If I remember correctly Norman Polmar makes a brief mention to studies made in the USSR in his book "Cold war submarines".

Here I will mention an academic paper that studies a cycle based on Aluminium:

Franzoni, Milani, Montorsi, Golovichev: "Combined hydrogen production and power generation from aluminum combustion with water: Analysis of the concept". International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 2010.

and here is the absract:
In this paper the combined production of hydrogen and power based on the aluminum combustion with water is investigated. Furthermore, a concept system is proposed that is potentially able to provide pressurized hydrogen and high temperature steam along with heat and work at the crankshaft. The system demonstrates high energy conversion
efficiency, and it fully complies with environment sustainability requirements. The use of aluminum as an energy carrier or a fuel has been already studied in literature, but its application in the field of the energy conversion systems is currently not well explored. Once aluminum oxide layer is removed, the pure aluminum can react with water producing alumina and hydrogen while releasing a significant amount of heat that can be used to produce superheated steam. Both pressurized hydrogen and superheated steam can be used in a turbine power system developing electrical or mechanical power. Moreover, the hydrogen can be either stored for further usage or burned in order to obtain a larger amount of heat for the process. From an environmental viewpoint, an energy conversion system utilizing the combustion of aluminum with water is very interesting since the aluminum oxidation is completely greenhouse gases free and produces only hydrogen and alumina. The high grade alumina
obtained by the reaction is harmless and can be employed in other technological processes or recycled back to aluminum; in this case, the closed loop use of aluminum would decrease significantly the need of new bauxite feedstock. Finally, an embodiment of the concept system for the combined production of hydrogen and power based on the aluminum combustion with water is proposed and its possible applications are discussed.



ACCESS: Top Secret
Jun 7, 2008
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Fascinating! The only catch I can see (and it's a big one) in using this as a scaled-up energy system would be the input needed to supply the magnesium fuel in the appropriate form.

I keep hearing the title of this post spoken in James Earl Jones's voice for some reason. Too many times watching "Hunt for Red October", perhaps?

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