New generator unit application assists China’s future warship development

By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/29 20:28:19

Photo taken on Jan. 12, 2020 shows the ceremony of the commissioning of the Nanchang, China's first Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, in the port city of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. The commission of Nanchang marks the Navy's leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, according to a statement from the Navy. (Photo by Li Tang/Xinhua)


China's domestically developed 20-megawatt turbo generator unit has been put into actual use for the first time. It is widely expected to be used on China's future warships to support the advanced integrated electric propulsion (IEP) technology that would enable the use of high energy weapons, including electromagnetic railguns and lasers.

The ship-use 20-megawatt turbo generator unit, independently developed by the No. 704 Institute of state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), was recently put into application, reads a statement the institute released last week.

The statement did not specify what kind of ship the new generator unit was installed on, and the generator unit's designation remains undisclosed.

In December 2018, this type of generator unit passed technical appraisal, the No.704 Institute announced in a statement at that time. It said that it is the most powerful ship-use turbo generator unit in China, and 20-megawatts of power is four times as much as China's current generator units and is on par with the most advanced generator units developed by the US and European countries.

The new turbo generator unit will lay the foundation for a future IEP system for ships, making it of significant military value, the institute said.

US' Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer uses two 36-megawatt generator units, which allows it to reach a top speed of 30 knots at a displacement of 15,000 tons, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi'an-based magazine on the national defense industry, reported on Monday.

By this calculation, two 20-megawatt generator units of this kind would be able to power China's next generation large frigate that potentially has a displacement of 5,000 to 6,000 tons, and three to four would be enough to drive China's 10,000 ton-class Type 055 destroyer, the report said, noting that China's new generation submarine could technically also use the new generator unit.

The biggest value of the new generator is its potential application in an IEP system, which could more efficiently store and allocate power, analysts said. 

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times that high energy weapons including electromagnetic railguns and lasers as well as electromagnetic catapults for aircraft carriers consume large amounts of electricity in a short period of time, and an IEP system, realized by the generators, would be able to provide stable power to allow them to operate.

China is reportedly developing an electromagnetic railgun, and analysts speculate it could be installed on an upgraded version of the Type 055 destroyer in the future.

Posted in: MILITARY

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