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09:13 PM, February 12, 2020
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Northrop to Develop Tech to Recharge Underwater Unmanned Vehicles

Northrop Grumman will manufacture niobium-based connectors (NiobiCon) that will allow passage of electricity to enable recharging of underwater unmanned vehicles.

"Northrop Grumman Corporation has signed its first non-exclusive agreement to manufacture niobium-based connectors (NiobiCon) specifically designed for harsh environments," the company said in a statement Wednesday.

NiobiCon is a new way of making electrical connections underwater that enables power transfer and data exchange without using seals, oil or moving parts. This technology was developed to address the inefficient recharging of unmanned vehicles in underwater environments.

When the niobium connector enters in contact with the water, it creates its own thin isolating layer, which gets scraped off when the connection is made. Once disconnected, the layer instantly regenerates.

“NiobiCon is a patented technology that has global commercial and defense applications,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman.

“It is an innovative wet-mateable connector technology we have developed that will not only improve reliability and cost-effectiveness, but also revolutionize the industry. We are excited to take the first step in developing solutions for specific future applications," Lytle added.

Northrop Grumman has entered into an agreement with iCONN Systems LLC, which specializes in the manufacture of connectors for harsh environments as their first non-exclusive licensee. They will work with potential customers to develop more reliable interconnects for both commercial and defense applications.

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