25
May
11

Future Submarine Propulsion System?

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.

Prototype Mitsubishi MAGIC Motor

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3 Responses to “Future Submarine Propulsion System?”


  1. 1 Clarkward
    May 29, 2011 at 11:11

    If the Mg can be regenerated by a small amount of electricity, another option presents itself. One deployment, we were talking (Maneuvering gets kind of boring at times) about the power sources used in interplanetary probes… Radiothermal generators that make around 3MW using thermocouples and heat from radioactive decay. No moving parts. We thought that it’d be cool if that could be harnessed for driving subs around; figure out your electric load, and wire enough of those suckers in parallel (we weren’t sure on the output voltage, just the power from a magazine article). Some of those would 1)Get rid of the steam ring, 2)Provide plenty of power for regenerating the Mg in the MAGIC engine, and 3)maybe be enough power to just run a whole sub (without a massive reactor compartment, although you’d still need some shielding). And the output is already DC 🙂

    • May 29, 2011 at 14:52

      That’s a nifty idea. I’m always interested in alternative systems just because you never know what might work better and more efficiently. If it’s more safe, then all the better.

      That, and if we can develop something small, powerful and safe, then it’s perhaps time to consider individual power supplies for home applications. Wouldn’t it be something to be able to take everyone OFF an electrical grid?

  2. 3 Clarkward
    June 4, 2011 at 11:36

    I think that the limiting factor on placing radiothermal decay generators in neighborhoods is security of the radioactive elements. Secondarily, shielding for the core would take up room. In any case RTGs would be preferable to actual reactor plants with moving parts, like SL-1 [link]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SL-1[/link]

    But on a sub? Silent, reliable, no underway maintenance on generators… when refuelling time comes around, much cleaner, no highly radioactive water nor high pressure containments to dismantle. In short, I can’t imagine why NR hasn’t looked at these. Or, more likely, they, having access to information that I don’t, looked at them and found good reasons not to go with them. Sigh.


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