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Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) Technology

Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) Technology:

A Rs 60,000 crore contract to modernize the Indian Navy submarine fleet to build six stealth submarines equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology has started.

  • With the emergence of submarines, there was a problem finding satisfactory forms of propulsion underwater.
  • Traditional diesel-electric submarines need to surface frequently to charge their batteries and have an underwater endurance of only a few days.
  • As battery technology improved, the endurance of these submarines increased proportionally. But it was not enough to last them beyond a week.
  • In 1908, the Imperial Russian Navy launched the submarine Pochtovy, which used a gasoline engine fed with compressed air and exhausted underwater.
  • These two approaches, the use of a fuel that provides energy to an open-cycle system, and the provision of oxygen to an aerobic engine in a closed cycle, characterise AIP today.
  • Most of these systems generate electricity, which, in turn drives an electric motor for propulsion or recharges the boat’s batteries.
  • The introduction of AIP vastly improved the underwater endurance of these submarines and gave them a distinct advantage.
  • AIP is mostly implemented as an auxiliary source, with the traditional diesel engine handling surface propulsion. AIP technology can be installed on existing, older-generation submarines by inserting a new hull section during a retrofit.
  • A typical conventional power plant provides 3 megawatts maximum, and an AIP source around 10 percent of that. A nuclear submarine’s propulsion plant is much greater than 20 megawatts.