American Superconductor Corporation (NASDAQ: AMSC), an energy technologies company, and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced the successful completion of full-power testing of the world’s first 36.5 megawatt (49,000 horsepower) high temperature superconductor (HTS) ship propulsion motor at the U.S. Navy’s Integrated Power System Land-Based Test Site in Philadelphia.
This is the first successful fullpower test of an electric propulsion motor sized for a large Navy combatant and, at 36.5 megawatts, doubled the Navy’s power rating test record. This system was designed and built under a contract from the Office of Naval Research to demonstrate the efficacy of HTS motors as the primary propulsion technology for future Navy all-electric ships and submarines. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) funded and led the successful testing of the motor.
Incorporating coils of HTS wire that are able to carry 150 times the power of similar-sized copper wire, the motor is less than half the size of conventional motors used on the first two DDG-1000 hulls and will reduce ship weight by nearly 200 metric tons. It will help make new ships more fuel-efficient and free up space for additional warfighting capability.
“The successful load test of our HTS motor marks the beginning of a new era in ship propulsion technology,” said Dan McGahn, senior vice president and general manager of AMSC Superconductors. “This motor provides the U.S. Navy with a truly transformational capability relative to size, stealth, endurance and survivability, providing our Navy with a clear performance advantage for years to come. We are grateful for the steadfast support from the Office of Naval Research, Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.”
AMSC and Northrop Grumman shared the work under a formal business agreement, with AMSC serving as the prime contractor for the research and development phase. “HTS technology offers the Navy a power-dense propulsion solution, and it will save money,” said Donna Potter, director of the Development & Integration business at Northrop Grumman’s Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Marine Systems business unit. “Whether the Navy uses the size and weight savings to make ships lighter and more fuel-efficient, or to pack more capabilities onto fewer ships, the end result is the same: more capability for the warfighter at less cost to the taxpayer.”
Earlier in 2008, the Navy successfully installed another HTS system – an HTS degaussing coil – onboard the USS HIGGINS (DDG 76). Powered by AMSC’s HTS wire and magnet cable technology, the coil system will undergo sea trials over the next two years onboard the HIGGINS. Similar to the motor, degaussing coils utilizing HTS wire will significantly reduce system weight for DDG 1000-class ships, landing platform dock (LPD) ships, and for the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).