Power and Energy Devices and Systems

Marine and Aerospace Power Systems

Over the past two decades, Purdue researchers have been highly active in the rather specialized area of marine and aerospace power systems including the power systems on submarines, ships, ground vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft.

There are numerous design challenges which must be met on these systems. In marine systems, the operation of the power system is critical to shipboard defensive systems and the ability of the ship to maintain situational awareness. In the case of aircraft systems, the operation of the power system is often flight-critical.

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There are numerous challenges in these systems. One of the most important is stability. While stability is a design consideration in all power systems, the high percentage of power electronics loads makes the problem more pertinent in marine and aerospace power systems than in their bulk power counterpart. Grounding is likewise also a significant consideration. Here again, grounding is an important issue in any power system, but in marine and aerospace power systems the large number of power electronics converters coupled with a unique environmental conditions make the issue of grounding particularly acute. Fault response is also critical. In marine systems such as warships, which are designed to maintain operation in the presence of battle damage, the system must be hardened with respect to faults. In the case of aerospace system, faults must be prevented from causing a cascading failure which brings down the aircraft.

Marine and aerospace power systems tend to show much more variation in architecture than the bulk power grid. While some marine systems utilize 50 or 60 Hz ac systems similar to bulk power systems, there is considerable interest in dc power systems and higher frequency ac systems (hundreds of Hz). In the case of aerospace systems, 400 Hz distribution systems are common; however both dc systems and high-frequency systems (20 kHz) are of interest.

Purdue researchers have been sponsored by Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Surface Warfare Centers, the Office of Naval Research, the Army, the Air Force, and NASA essentially continuously for the past twenty years to solve research and engineering challenges in this area.