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Library: aip

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Author: Utena
Date:Sep 5 1998

Note:  The term "fuel cell" is used throughout this book, and the meaning is
contextual.  Most of the time I use it it referse to the battery of a D/E sub,
whether or not it's a true "fuel cell".  Except when it applies to the "fuel
cell" type of AIP, which again is closer to a true "fuel cell" but doesn't
The definition of a "fuel cell" is a battery that produces or stores energy
solely by breaking up or forming it's electrolyte's component parts.  A "true"
fuel cell is one that does this using hydrogen and oxygen to form water.

AIP is just a term used in SW or ASW that is some type of system that allows a
D/E submarine to recharge the fuel cell or battery without having to be at
snorkel depth.  This may replace the diesel engine or it may supplement it. 
Following is the main important of AIP.
(Note:  One example of AIP that has been around for a long time is a nuclear
submarine, this book concentrates on other types as nuclear submarines are
only in use by the US and Russia and a few other countries, and are already
thoroughly researched.)

1) A standard D/E sub, while cruising at any given time, will have fuel cells
charged between 50% to 100%.  A quiet AIP system allows the fuel cells to stay
charged at levels near 100% all the time, even if not at snorkel depth.

2) A sub that has run its fuel cells down to 0% during an engagement, or
reaching an engagement, is not forced to proceed to snorkel depth, it can stay
at depth and run the AIP system to recharge the cells.  Even if the AIP system
is noisy, it is more preferable than going to PD, especially if there is
active sonar from nearby ASW ships.

3) In emergency sprint conditions, a ship with both an AIP system and a
standard D/E configuration can run both at snorkel depth to minimize cell
recharge time or maximize long-running speed.

4) Non-nuclear AIP does not offer the power output (and therefore speed) that
nuclear subs have, but it can be significantly quieter than a nuclear sub.

* MESMA AIP *
  This is one of the first AIP systems made by the french.  Because it is
extremely noisy, it is not favored or highly regarded.  I don't know the
details of how it works, though.

* FUEL CELL AIP *
  This is not a true AIP, it's just an extra-big battery that can be fitted
into the sub.  Like any other fuel cell, it combines hydrogen and oxygen with
a series of reactions to form water, and does the reverse of this (splits the
water back into its elemental gasses) to recharge. I'm sure non-water-based
"fuel" cells are also being explored. Germany is the main user of this system,
but has sold or shared the technology with other NATO-friendly nations.  The
sub outfitted with this system cannot run indefinately, but this system does
provide more power than a traditional AIP.

* Stirling AIP *
This must be the type that the latest Swedish submarines use.  A Stirling
engine is a small engine discovered around the turn of the century that was
largely disregarded due to the advent of the ICE engine.  A stirling engine is
powered by a heat source and works by using the expansive properties of hot
air.  I have no idea what the heat source is, maybe the heat source is just
ambience and the engine is supercooled with cycled water from outside the sub
or something. If it uses this type engine (it could just be called "Stirling"
for fun or something) then it is probably very quiet and efficient, but
limited in power output. Also, stirling engine can be made up of cylinders and
placed radial, inline, or in a 'V' formation to turn a piston just like
gasoline or diesel, so a stirling AIP can power the shafts independently.


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