Publication Detail

Science and Technology Challenges and Potential Game-Changing Opportunities

Michael Triantafyllou
21 pp.
MITSG 10-36
$5.50 DOM / $7.50 INT

The future of naval engineering in the 21st century will be shaped by novel and emerging technologies that will not only provide unprecedented capabilities but also require radical rethinking of naval ship and vehicle design. This change is already in the works as engineering schools in major universities are hiring young faculty trained in new fields and developing novel technologies. This investment is expected to bring radical changes to mature fields, such as naval architecture and marine engineering; hence, to fully reap the benefits the ground must be prepared now.

The paper is structured around these new emerging technologies and the impact they are expected to have and provides discussion on their impact on naval ships and vessels and their capabilities. Traditional mechanical engineering departments and naval architecture and marine engineering schools are turning increasingly towards nano-engineering, novel power-trains and synthetic fuels, and robotic devices and smart sensors, in order to revitalize mature disciplines.

The following emerging technologies and fields are covered and a discussion of the related implications for naval ship design is included:

• Efficient power trains (especially of the hybrid type), efficient engines using alternative fuels that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and fuel cells that use conventional fuels more efficiently.
• Progress in surface chemistry that allows the development of novel coatings to protect ship hulls and cargo holds, reduce deposits in pipelines, and decrease fluid drag.
• Work on the all-electric ship, which has generated new methods to design and operate ships with increased automation, reduced manning, and increased reliability.
• New sensor arrays, which will allow sensing of the self-generated flow and will create the capability for active flow manipulation and hence increased capabilities for maneuvering and efficient propulsion.
• Robotic developments that promise routine unmanned inspection and remote underwater intervention.
• Smart autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) that increase substantially the operational capability of ships and submarines. Naval ship and submarine design will be influenced significantly to accommodate the storage and servicing, as well as the launching and retrieval of AUVs in rough weather.
• New high-strength steels that improve hull protection against impact and fatigue, including operation in very cold climates.
• Global ocean modeling and prediction that will allow effective routing and operation of vessels in rough seas with unprecedented detail.

The paper concludes with an assessment of the shape of future naval designs and the capabilities they will offer.

type: Technical reports

Parent Project

Project No.: 2008-ESRDC-01-LEV
Title: Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC)

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