HTS Propulsion Thrusters Being Developed by American Superconductor Corporation
MHD Ship or “The All-Electric Ship”
This section of our website will be devoted to the development of HTS technologies related to the "All-Electric Ship." At the present time the development of HTS thrusters for the Navy is the most advanced technology.
Nearly all navy ships, cruise ships, and cargo ships built today use electric motors to drive their propellers. Of course, they use gasoline motors (generators) to generate the electricity to these motors. A major component of the modern ship is the propulsion thruster. These thrusters are built in hydrodynamically shaped pods that are attached externally to the hull of the ship. They look much like an aircraft engine on the wing of a airplane. However, unlike an aircraft engine, the thrusters on a ship are used to steer the craft. At the present time, all commercial thrusters use conventional electric motors to drive their propellers. Nearly 70% of all cruise and cargo ships use these external electrical thrusters. So the current global market for electric motors for propulsion in cruise and cargo ships is estimated to be roughly $400 M. It is expected that this market will grow rapidly in the coming years.
Based on its own needs the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research several years ago contracted with American Superconductor Corporation for the design and development of HTS electric motors and related subsystems for ship thrusters. These HTS thrusters have several advantages over conventional thrusters. They are much smaller and much lighter in weight.
Our involvement in this activity is only at the level of making improved HTS tapes for better electric motors.
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