Don’t hold your breath


Naval Group is leading the AIP revolution in submarine technology. AIP stands for Air Independent Propulsion. This technology gives non-nuclear submarines unprecedented operational ability by enabling to stay submerged for weeks at a time.

Traditionally, non-nuclear submarines run on diesel and electricity. Underwater they use battery power. After running submerged for a few days, the batteries are drained and the submarine must surface. At which point the diesel generator recharges the batteries, while the submarine runs at snorkel depth, traveling just below the surface.

A submarine that has to surface every few days loses the element of surprise and exposes itself to detection. Enter Air Independent Propulsion, which enables diesel boats to stay submerged for weeks at a time. It is estimated that nearly all of the world’s major submarine fleets will integrate AIP technologies into their non-nuclear boats.


Cracking the problem

Naval Group has developed an AIP system powered by 2nd generation fuel cells call FC2G.

  • Proven: The 2nd generation fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity, using hydrogen as the fuel and oxygen as the oxidizer.
  • Self-contained: The Naval Group technology cracks diesel fuel in a reformer to extract the hydrogen, removing the need to carry large quantities of hydrogen on board.
  • Durable: The oxidizer is made by mixing liquefied oxygen with nitrogen to produce air, which is less corrosive than pure oxygen.
  • When the hydrogen is mixed with the air, it generates electricity to recharge the submarine’s batteries and produces water, which is used in the cracking process. Naval Group holds over 40 patents on its FC2G AIP technology.
  • Tested: The Naval Group FC2G AIP system can increase submerged endurance by several weeks at low speed without compromising stealth or submersion.
  • Modular: The entire FC2G system is modular and can be fitted on any submarine with a dimeter of 6 meters or more, whether as part of a new construction or as a retrofit.
  • Compatible: It is compatible with all existing and future battery technologies and is designed to last the for the submarine’s lifetime.

DCNS fuel cell 2nd generation air independent propulsion