Researchers Working on Technology to develop Supersonic Submarine

Researchers Working on Technology to develop Supersonic Submarine

Scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab are working on a technique called supercavitation. The technique was first tried by the Soviet military during the Cold War.

The Soviet project's end product was the Shkval torpedo. It was able to reach the speed of 200 knots. But China wants its underwater supersonic transport to have more speed, which will require more research into the matter.

It would not be easy to develop the technique, as two problems were faced by researchers. Firstly, coming up with right conditions to create supercavitation and the second problem is steering the vessel.

The technique supercavitation means providing the vessel a bubble to travel, by which the drag of water is reduced. The technique requires ejection of gas to maintain the bubble for which a high-speed launch is needed, so that air bubbles are formed.

Chinese boffins said that they have faced these issues. "By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier", said Harbin professor Li Fengchen.

Li said that their approach is different from any other approach like vector propulsion or thrust created for the engine. Scientists are quite positive about their approach, but there are many tasks that they need to perform including they are yet to develop a rocket propulsion system, which is strong enough to launch the vehicle at required speed.

Researchers shared that if a vessel can cross the speed of sound of underwater, which is around 5,800 km/h then it can travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in around 100 minutes. But it would not be an easy task to perform. It would require a lot of advancements in the technology that can give a push to a supercavitating submarine to have enough burn to cross the Pacific.

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