March 22, 2018

Russia's Unproven Progress in non-nuclear AIP and LIBs for Submarines

In Anonymous's very busy, productive, ten days on Russian and Western diesels Anonymous has also provided two posts (here and hereon Russia's developing (non-nuclear (SSK)) Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) and Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) technologies for submarine. Combining the two posts produces:

Perhaps the most active Russian designer of SSKs and nuclear subs is the (short name) "Rubin Design Bureau" (long name Joint-Stock Company “Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering" of St Petersburg). Russia likely remains far behind the West in AIP development but Russia's LIBs' progress (perhaps working with China) is less clear. 

Rubin, is developing, sponsoring or coodinating submarine drivetrain systems, which include:

Diesels (next generation diesel 12ДМ-185 (ie. 12DM-185s) [1]

AIP using Diesel Reforming (Hydrogen producing) Fuel Cells in a Russian technology called
   "VNEU". VNEU (see Russian 2016 article) is being developed for the 5th generation "Kalina".
    Rubin claimed, in 2015, that VNEU is a fundamentally different Russian development which 
    limits the quantity of  hydrogen kept within the pressure hull.

    =  But the debate swings back to Germany which claims its Type 212 stores "...the fuel and
        oxidizer [is] in tanks...between the pressure hull and outer light hull. The gases [including
        hydrogen] are piped through the pressure hull to the fuel cells as needed..."

LIBs, likely of the Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) type. Comment One of drawbacks of LIBs is
   thermal run away at low temperature. But, LFP and LTO (Lithium Titanate) have excellent stability
   at low temperatures (cold seas) AND longer time endurance improves under ice performance in
   the Arctic Ocean (immediately above Russia, Northwestern Europe and the North American

   =  Rubin claimed in 2014 that "lithium batteries for submarines have been tested" and "The general
       director of the enterprise, Igor Vilnit, said that a full cycle of tests of lithium-ion batteries for
       non-nuclear submarines had been carried out." But demonstrable, proven, progress is slim.

Propulsion motor. It is not clear whether Russia has mature permanent magnet synchronous motor
    technology for submarine.


Russia hopes it has a SSK development budget sufficient to produce future, single hull, Russian SSKs (eg. the (possibly already bypassed) Lada-Amur Project and/or moving to the Kalina Project). Russia intends they will be equipped with the above technologies. With these new SSKs Russia hopes to compete strategically and for foreign business orders against Western (including Japanese and South Korean) and now Chinese SSKs

Russia may have an advantage, in pressure hull alloys for its new SSKs, if Russia reuses Titanium from old Soviet submarine hulls. This Titanium may be the basis for deeper diving, non-magnetic hulls. In the Baltic Sea, Russia aims to challenge the technical superiority of German Type 212As in AIP, diesel generators and non-magnetic hulls. 

[1]  Another source describing the DM-185 is advises:
The “Ural diesel-engine plant (UDMZ) introduced a new generation diesel engine - DM-185”
DM-185 is alternatives of DM-210 [a problematic backup diesel for Yasen or Borey nuclear subs.] 
The DM-185 range features:
-  Total power: 0,7-4,9 MW [the high upper limit power seems to be for non-submarine];
-  Rotational speed corresponding to the total power: 1500, 1800, 1900 rpm;
-  Specific fuel consumption: not more than 204 g / kWh;
-  Specific consumption of oil in fumes: 0.4 g / kWh;
-  Specific gravity: 3.7-4.7 kg / kW Resource: 40000-70000 hours Cylinder power: 120-234 kW.


The 12DM-185 seems to correspond to the MTU 4000 diesel, but, where do the 12DM-185's turbochargers come from?


Russia's (presumably) underfunded SSK projects may remain uncompetitive (strategically and in sales of SSKs) compared to the latest Western SSKs. This is with the West working on third generation fuel cell-AIP, Japanese standard LIBs as well as KHI and MTU 4000 diesels. 

Even China, with a larger budget for SSKs, may be passing Russia in AIP and LIBs. In that regard see Submarine Matters' article, China into Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) for Submarine - Can Russia Keep Up? of February 2, 2016.

Mainly Anonymous


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

In the submarine with one DC propulsion motor consist of two rotors, with two battery sections consist of four battery subsections, and with two Diesel Generators (DEs), speed of propeller is controlled by switching of electrical connection (pc= parallel connection, dc=direct connection ) of rotors, battery sections (or sub-sections) and DEs as shown in following examples.

Operation range 1: pc/rotors, dc/battery sections, dc/DEs
Operation range 2: pc/rotors, pc/battery sections, pc/DEs
Operation range 3: dc/rotors, pc/battery sections, pc/DEs
Operation range 4: dc/rotors, pc/two battery sub-sections, nonuse of DEs.

In PMSM submarine, speed of propellers is steplessly controlled over entire operation ranges and above-mentioned switching of connection is not needed. In the “Rubin” electrical system, the switching is adopted suggesting adoption of DC motor.

[supplementary explanation] “Rubin” diesel submarine or pre-Soryu submarine adopts the electrical system in the said comment. In more detail, the former submarine equips with two fuel cell-AIPs and LIBs and the latter submarine equips with four Stirling-AIPs and LABs.


Anonymous said...

The DM-185 seems to be immature next to the 4-2DL42 or 7-2D42 which went back to their 30/38.

The issue for Russia is they can only export SSK not SSN. With their AIP and Kalina designs being more or less vaporware or at least unproven, it may be better for them to upgrade their 636.3 to Lithium-Ion batteries along with upgrades in electronics and offer that solution for export near term instead.