Power Generation

The Navy is currently exploring the development of power generation technologies to improve fuel efficiency, increase power density and reduce emissions for air, ground, sea surface and undersea applications. Key research areas include fuel cells, shipboard hybrid drive systems, high efficiency aircraft engines, and organic-polymeric-hybrid photovoltaic devices.

Fuel cell research is focused on developing the critical materials and components to provide higher efficiency, reliable, high power density fuel cell systems for Navy and Marine Corps operations. Applications for fuel cells include long endurance unmanned air and unmanned undersea vehicles, Marine Corps field power, and ship service power.

Aircraft engine research is focused on new turbine engine configurations with program goals to decrease fuel consumption and to decrease acquisition and maintenance costs while increasing aircraft operational availability and performance. Engine improvements will be accomplished by using innovative materials and processes to produce improved components, including developing new high temperature metal alloys and inter-metallic materials for lighter and more heat resistant turbine blades and disks, and thermal/environmental barrier coatings systems to improve component heat resistance to obtain greater fuel efficiency.

Shipboard hybrid drive systems research is developing and de-risking energy storage, power conversion and control approaches to enable single generator ship operations for reduced fuel consumption and “ride-through” capability in a “dark ship” event. This concept builds on the PEO Ships/NAVSEA Hybrid Electric Drive system development to decrease ship fuel consumption.

Photovoltaic research is focused on developing the chemistry and materials necessary to provide low cost, lightweight, rugged, thin film organic/polymeric/hybrid photovoltaics with increased overall power conversion efficiencies. Primary advantages of polymer photovoltaics over conventional silicon and other inorganic semi-conductor photovoltaics is lower cost, lighter weight, and flexibility, allowing them to be used for disposable sensors and hydrophones; fabric-like battery rechargers and portable power sources for the individual Marine or field sites; and unmanned vehicle power.