Friday, August 29, 2014

Chinese working on supercavitation tech to allow submarine travel at 750 mph

Chinese researchers say they are developing technology that would allow submarines to travel more than 750 miles-per-hour — speedier than a commercial jet.

The technology is called supercavitation, which has been known about for decades. The concept is to increase the speed of an object, such as a submarine or torpedo, by creating a bubble around it, reducing drag as it moves through the water.

The nose of the vehicle typically is designed to create the bubble, and gas often is used to shape the bubble. The Soviets used this method on the Shkval torpedo in the 1960s and '70s; it was capable of 230 mph but only for short distances.

"The devil is in the details," according to Dr. Roger Arndt, a University of Minnesota professor who works with the university's Cavitation and Bubbly Flows Research Group.

One of the challenges is steering a submerged craft that has little in the way of control surfaces in the water. Another is that high speeds (for underwater travel) are needed to maintain the bubble, maybe around 45mph, though it would depend greatly on the size and design of the ship.

The Chinese researchers told the South China Morning Post they have developed a liquid membrane that tackles both issues.

For more of the Wired story:

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