What is Air Independent Propulsion? How is it used in Submarines?

The Defence Research Development Organisation recently achieved a milestone in the development of Air Independent Propulsion system. The system was operated in endurance mode and max power mode. The operation was successful.

What is Air Independent Propulsion System?

The Air Independent Propulsion System is being developed by Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) of DRDO.

The following are the key features of the Air Independent Propulsion system:

  • The Air Propulsion System allows the submarines to stay for longer hours in water. The submarines need to come to the surface of the water to charge its batteries. This is reduced by Air Propulsion System.
  • It decreases the noise levels made by the submarines while travelling. This makes it hard to detect the submarines.
  • DRDO is developing the Air Propulsion Systems for diesel submarines.
  • It is a fuel-cell based Air Propulsion System.
  • It uses a Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell.

How is Air Independent Propulsion System of India unique?

The Air Independent Propulsion System developed by India is unique as it generates hydrogen on board.

The system is being developed with the support of Thermax and L&T.

Significance of Air Independent Propulsion System

  • The system was developed under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Campaign.
  • Currently, this technology is available only in France, US, UK, China and Russia.

How is it used in Submarines?

An additional hull has to be added to the submarines in order to fit them with Air Independent Propulsion Systems. These systems use Stirling engines, fuel cells, closed cycle diesel and closed cycle steam to increase the durability of submergence under water.


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