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Seawater-drinking battery promises power boost to long-range submersibles
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Jun 16, 2017

Noiseless river 'bubble' taxi sails through Paris test
Paris (AFP) June 16, 2017 - An odd-looking electric boat taxi whose inventor believes it could be an eco-friendly transport solution for cities worldwide was put to the test in Paris for the first time Friday.

The brainchild of French yachtsman Alain Thebault, the aerodynamic Sea Bubble made no noise and no waves as it took a star turn on the River Seine with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard.

"It was a perfect flight," Thebault, 54, said after putting the prototype through its paces between the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d'Orsay.

The white craft skimmed about half a metre (20 inches) over the Seine, executing turns while pausing occasionally to yield to passing ducks.

"It's quiet, comfortable and fun," said Hidalgo, who has backed the project from the start and hopes it will provide an eco-friendly alternative for getting around the French capital within four years.

The boat is similar to a hydrofoil, with fibreglass foils that deploy to hoist it into the air, powered by electric batteries, and capable of reaching the maximum allowed speed of 18 kilometres (11 miles) per hour.

"It works like the wings of an airplane in the air. After it reaches a certain speed the Bubble lifts off," Thebault said.

A Sea Bubble means "zero noise, zero waves and zero (carbon) emissions," he added.

Thebault said he has received "an avalanche of requests" from cities including Miami and Seattle, Tokyo, Bangkok and no fewer than 15 cities in India.

A team of MIT scientists have developed a battery that derives power from seawater. The technology promises to extend the range and capabilities of unpiloted underwater vehicles, or UUVs.

Scientists spun the technology off into a startup company called Open Water Power. The company was recently acquired by L3 Technologies, an established tech firm.

Most submersibles use lithium ion batteries, which are expensive to maintain and have a tendency to catch on fire. OWP's battery is cheaper, safer and longer-lasting.

The batter consists of alloyed aluminum, a nickel-coated cathode and an alkaline electrolyte sandwiched between the electrodes. The battery's components require seawater to function.

Seawater is sucked in and directed at the cathode, where it is split into hydroxide anions and hydrogen gas. A reaction between the anions and aluminum anode produces aluminum hydroxide and releases electrons. The electrons are drawn back toward the cathode, completing cycle.

Harmless byproducts, aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen gas, are expelled into the ocean. Corroded aluminum anodes can be cheaply and easily replaced, prolonging the battery's lifespan.

"Our power system can drink sea water and discard waste products," Ian Salmon McKay, one of the battery's inventors, told MIT. "But that exhaust is not harmful, compared to exhaust of terrestrial engines."

Currently, the battery gives UUVs a range of 100 nautical miles. Engineers hope to eventually increase the battery's range to 1,000 nautical miles.

The U.S. Navy recently hired OWP to replace the batteries powering acoustic sensors used to identify enemy submarines. The company's batteries could be used to power variety of underwater missions, whether military, industrial or scientific.

Boeing, Huntington Ingalls giving boost to Navy UUV program
Washington (UPI) Jun 8, 2017
Boeing and shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries are partnering to design and build unmanned undersea vehicles in support of a U.S. Navy program. The teaming, which will leverage design and production facilities in California, Virginia and Florida, to expand the autonomous paradigm for UUV's for the Navy's Advanced Undersea Prototyping program. "This partnership provides the ... read more

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