Air Independent Propulsion System

News: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has achieved an important milestone in the development of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System by proving the land-based prototype on 8 March 2021.

Details:

  • The plant was operated in endurance mode and max power mode as per the user requirements. The system is being developed by Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) of DRDO.
  • AIP has a force multiplier effect on lethality of a diesel electric submarine as it enhances the submerged endurance of the boat, several folds. Fuel cell-based AIP has merits in performance compared to other technologies.
  • While there are different types of AIP systems being pursued internationally, fuel cell-based AIP of NMRL is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard.
  • The technology has been successfully developed with the support of industry partners L&T and The rmax. It has now reached the stage of maturity for fitment into target vessels.

What is Air-independent propulsion?

  • It is any technology which allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without the need to access atmospheric oxygen (by surfacing or using a snorkel).
  • It can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
  • It is based on the combustion of stored oxygen and ethanol to augment battery-powered propulsion.
  • AIP significantly improves stealth because it enables a submarine to generate electricity for services and battery charging and propulsion while completely submerged.
  • AIP systems also generate electricity, powering a submarine to operate and also generate oxygen, lighting and amenities for crew.
  • The Non-nuclear submarines running on battery power or AIP can be virtually silent.