Sourced : Popular Mechanics

By Kyle Mizokami

Engineers and scientists in China have started up the first Chinese ship with a magnetohydrodynamic propulsion system. The system, which uses magnetic fields propel a ship through the water, promises to make quieter military submarines that are harder to detect. However, the technology is not new and has failed to catch on in the mainstream.

The report in China’s official military news site and mentioned by China Defense Blog, says that a ship with a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) propulsion system or “rim-driven pumpjet” drive was tested in southern China, on Hainan island. The ship, docked at the Chinese naval base at Sanya, was tested on October 18th and “then reached the designated speed.”

MHD propulsion systems work by using superconducting magnets to create strong magnetic fields. Generated by electric motors, these fields move seawater through an underwater shaft and past a metal rim, propelling the ship forward. MHD propulsion uses no moving parts, making it ultra-quiet.

The fictional Soviet Navy submarine Red October in the film The Hunt for Red October used a MHD drive. In the movie, the Red October was described as particularly dangerous because its quietness made it easier to sneak up on the East Coast and launch a so-called nuclear “decapitation strike” against the United States.

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