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UK explores ‘hybridisation' of powertrains for RN, RFA ships

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed plans to identify hybrid powertrain technologies with application to Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

Under a Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) market exploration – dubbed ‘Hybridisation of the Naval Fleet' – industry has been asked to advise on potential solutions based on electrification (AC as well as DC) and electrical storage that could be retrofitted to vessels. The technologies are required to be at Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 5–9 and be suitable for implementation by 2030.

The market exploration, being conducted through the DASA on behalf of the MoD Naval Ships Support Central Engineering Team, is intended to inform options for near- to medium-term hybrid powertrain technologies, and aid the defence environmental sustainability strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. As well as being suitable for retrofit to existing and future platforms, such as aircraft carriers and major surface combatants, potential solutions should not have a negative impact on their individual operational capability, and should be weight-saving or weight-neutral.

The TRL and “maturity time” for each potential solution is being sought so this can be taken into consideration. Rough order of magnitude for costs of the system, system installation, and any development costs from TRL 7 onwards have also been requested.

Nuclear power options have been excluded by the MoD, and it has also advised that there “is no interest in pursuing alternative low-density fuels such as ammonia or hydrogen”. It has also stipulated that potential solutions “cannot only run on standard diesel and must have the adaptability to run with future fuels”.

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