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posted by n1 on Sunday June 18, @03:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-drink-seawater dept.

The long range of airborne drones helps them perform critical tasks in the skies. Now MIT spinout Open Water Power (OWP) aims to greatly improve the range of unpiloted underwater vehicles (UUVs), helping them better perform in a range of applications under the sea.

Recently acquired by major tech firm L3 Technologies, OWP has developed a novel aluminum-water power system that's safer and more durable, and that gives UUVs a tenfold increase in range over traditional lithium-ion batteries used for the same applications.

The power systems could find a wide range of uses, including helping UUVs dive deeper, for longer periods of time, into the ocean's abyss to explore ship wreckages, map the ocean floor, and conduct research. They could also be used for long-range oil prospecting out at sea and various military applications. [...] It consists of a alloyed aluminum, a cathode alloyed with a combination of elements (primarily nickel), and an alkaline electrolyte that's positioned between the electrodes.

When a UUV equipped with the power system is placed in the ocean, sea water is pulled into the battery, and is split at the cathode into hydroxide anions and hydrogen gas. The hydroxide anions interact with the aluminum anode, creating aluminum hydroxide and releasing electrons. Those electrons travel back toward the cathode, donating energy to a circuit along the way to begin the cycle anew. Both the aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen gas are jettisoned as harmless waste.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:06AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:06AM (#527322)

    A phys.org PR blurb. Can smell it out just by glancing over it.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by n1 on Sunday June 18, @05:00AM (1 child)

      by n1 (993) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18, @05:00AM (#527338) Journal

      If we posted the exact same summary from mit.edu would it have made you feel better?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @05:10AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @05:10AM (#527343)

        No, MIT pr office puts out same garbage phys.org passes on. This outfit is part of l3 tech now? Only thing it will do is to help bilk the taxpayers.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:19AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:19AM (#527325)

    Saltwater, blood, close enough.

    Kill the humans.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:24AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:24AM (#527326)

      You sound salty. I can smell it out just by reading the text.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:29AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:29AM (#527329)

        I'm bitter.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:37AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:37AM (#527332)

          Suck my upright pipe.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:59AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @04:59AM (#527337)

    Sounds like single use, and the components quickly discarded. The LiIon and others last less but can be recharged, and a lot of components recycled. Tradeoffs.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @05:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @05:19PM (#527530)

      It takes about $20k per day to operate a ship to deploy/recover a UUV. If you do the math it doesn't take long get to the point that they can be considered disposable.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday June 18, @05:02AM (2 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 18, @05:02AM (#527340)

    Corrosion of an aluminium alloy, what a leap in electrochemistry... can we call it a quantum leap to sound more pompous?

    And the comparison with lithium batteries... last time I checked, lithium batteries don't jettison anything which they use to obtain their energy.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Sunday June 18, @05:45AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Sunday June 18, @05:45AM (#527362)

    If you are throwing away hydrogen gas then you are leaving energy on the table.

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday June 18, @04:48PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday June 18, @04:48PM (#527520)

    I'm sure it's diluted and irrelevant for small UAVs, but if this were scaled up to power cargo freighters, how long before we've turned the seas into a lifeless cess-pool?

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @10:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, @10:15PM (#527619)

    It is a fuel cell. Aluminum is the fuel.

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