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11:43 AM, December 26, 2018
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China Develops 20-megawatt Steam Turbo Generator for Aircraft Carriers
Chinese Type 001A Aircraft carrier

A 20-megawatt steam turbo generator to supply electricity to electromagnetic catapults on China's future aircraft carriers and electromagnetic railguns on destroyers has been developed by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC).

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, CSIC said in a statement.

The new steam turbo generator unit will not only provide electricity for a vessel's propulsion system, but also lay the foundation for a fully electric power system for ships, the company said.

The new generator recently passed technical appraisal. The next step will be to install the generator on a test ship, before it is available for use by the military in one to two years, Song Zhongping, a military expert was quoted as saying by Chinamil Wednesday.

Twenty megawatts is sufficient to propel 10,000-ton class vessels, Song told the Global Times, noting that larger vessels like aircraft carriers can use multiple generators to get the power they need.

On traditional vessels, power units that provide power for propulsion and electricity are separate, and power generated for the propulsion system is not used to power electrical applications, Song said.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the generator unit is now fully operational and technically eligible for production.

Generators that are powerful enough could be used for both the propulsion and electrical systems, Li said. A ship's power system would be more efficient if one system is used to allocate power to where it is needed.

The US Zumwalt-class destroyer and the UK's Type 45 destroyer use a fully electric propulsion system.

CSIC is reportedly developing China's third aircraft carrier, and experts expect it will be equipped with an electromagnetic catapult to launch aircraft. China is also reportedly looking to upgrade its most advanced 10,000-ton class destroyer the Type 055s with electromagnetic railguns.

New technologies such as electromagnetic catapult and electromagnetic railgun require a huge amount of electricity. A fully electric power system will enable them to use unoccupied propulsion power to operate properly, Li said.

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