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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-II :
  • 31 October, 2019

  • Min Read

Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP)

Context:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) programme to build a fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system for Indian Naval Submarines.

What is AIP?

  • Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) has a force multiplier effect on the 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.
  • Operation of the land-based prototype engineered to the form-and-fit of a submarine
  • In a fuel cell AIP, an electrolytic fuel cell releases energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen, with only water as the waste product.
  • The cells are highly efficient, and do not have moving parts, thus ensuring that the submarine has a low acoustic signature

Importance of AIP:

  • Submarines are essentially of two types: conventional and nuclear. Conventional submarines use a diesel-electric engine, and must surface daily for oxygen for fuel combustion. If fitted with an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, the sub needs to take in oxygen only once a week.
  • While many naval powers, including India, have acquired nuclear-powered submarines for deep-sea operations, conventional diesel-electric variants are considered useful for coastal defence. The latter are optimised for stealth, and their weapons and sensors provide for effective operations close to the shore.
  • Because diesel-electric submarines require to come to the surface frequently to charge their batteries, their underwater endurance time is less. ‘Air-independent’ propulsion technology helps to make the diesel generator less dependent on surface air.
  • Older submarines can be adapted to the AIP system by retrofitting.


Source: PIB


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