Navy researchers eye pulsed electrical charge emitter for antisubmarine warfare

CHELMSFORD, Mass., 26 Aug. 2005. Researchers at Phoenix Science & Technology Inc. in Chelmsford, Mass., are developing devices that deliver pulsed electrical discharges to help the U.S. Navy with undersea and antisubmarine warfare.

Aug 26th, 2005

By John Keller

CHELMSFORD, Mass., 26 Aug. 2005. Researchers at Phoenix Science & Technology Inc. in Chelmsford, Mass., are developing devices that deliver pulsed electrical discharges to help the U.S. Navy with undersea and antisubmarine warfare.

The devices are called plasma sparkers, which create a pulsed electric discharge in water between electrodes that generates a shock wave with pressure and spectrum qualitatively the same as explosives, as well as creates ultraviolet light emissions and OH radicals.

U.S. Navy leaders are interested in plasma sparker technology for its potential to create false acoustic signatures to defeat torpedoes and smart mines, and to create loud undersea sonar "pings" to help locate and track hostile submarines.

Plasma sparkers also have potential commercial applications to prevent the growth of unwanted sealife such as zebra muscles on pipes and other underwater structures, as well as for water purification.

Navy officials most lately are awarded Phoenix Science a $15 million phase III, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract for projects called Surface Discharge Low Frequency Acoustic Source, High-Efficiency Plasma Sparkers for New Applications, and High Source Level Plasma Sparkers Driven by High-Energy Density Capacitors for Navy Applications.

All these projects are related to undersea and antisubmarine warfare, explains Phoenix Science President Raymond Schaefer. The contract, awarded from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, N.J., was announced Aug. 24. The contract number is N68335-05-D-0016.

Navy experts particularly are interested in plasma sparkers that are small, light, and affordable enough to install in air-dropped sonobuoys, Schaefer says.

Phonenix Science experts will perform research, develop, build, and demonstrate prototypes, write software, and retrofit the systems they develop into existing Navy aircraft, surface ships, and submarines.

Work will be in Chelmsford, Mass., and will be finished in August 2010. For more information contact Phoenix Science & Technology online at www.phoenixsandt.com.

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