The project for fall 2012 will be to design a power system for the Remus 600 autonomous underwater vehicle, fueled by aluminum oxidation. This power system will be designed to fit inside a section of the Remus 600 and recharge the batteries that provide electricity to the vehicle components. The purpose of the power system is to extend the autonomous range of the Remus 600, by allowing the batteries to be recharged without human interaction. Aluminum was chosen as a fuel for this purpose because it oxidizes in seawater and has a high energy density. Seawater will come into contact with aluminum, causing the aluminum to oxidize and release heat into the water. This hot water will be converted to electrical current to charge the batteries using thermoelectrics.

Aluminum is extremely reactive in water and has a greater energy density than diesel, but we do not see that due to the almost instantaneous formation of a non-reactive oxide layer that forms on the surface whenever pure Aluminum is exposed. One method of harvesting the potential energy produced is by feeding Aluminum into liquid Gallium. Since Gallium and Aluminum are in the same periodic group, Aluminum atoms are able to exchange with the Gallium, and therefore react with water. This reaction produces heat which can be harvested using thermoelectrics, and also Hydrogen which can potentially be used for additional power.

Potential Groups