Marine Engine Drive Couplings or Keeping Pliable Offshore Brazil

By George Backwell at March 22, 2014 00:32
Filed Under: drive systems

Drive coupling specialists Vulkan, based in Germany, is supplying both fixed and flexible drive couplings to Brazil’s home-built burgeoning offshore energy sector, and interestingly is also involved in a project to develop a nuclear-powered submarine propulsion system for the Brazil Navy.
The diesel engine beats to the sound of a pulsating drum in its cycle giving rise to shaft vibration. Secondly, slight misalignments, in connected drive shafts also need to be smoothed out, and to achieve this, flexible couplings incorporate rubber-like polymer subrstances in their design – elastomers.

Vulcan explains that compound research in its R&D facility with highly specialized vulcanization technology has led to the development of an elastomer with considerably higher power density  – the 'Acotec' compound. This new compound distinguishes itself from other conventionally used materials not only through its enhanced tensile and tear strength and increased ultimate elongation, but also through a high thermal resistance and reduced ageing.

Vulkan’s latest project was to supply highly flexible couplings for Caterpillar gensets and electric motors, as well as torsionally rigid couplings for the waterjets of six drillships built for Petrobas in a Brazilian shipyard.

Image courtesy of Vulkan

Nuclear-powered submarine project
Brazil’s ambitious plan is to have six nuclear-powered submarines out of a total fleet of no less that twenty in the long term.  The Brazil Navy is tasked to protect the nation’s vast subsea energy resources in fields located up to 350 kilometres off the coast and at a depth of over 3,000 meters. Preliminary estimates suggest that up to 100 billion barrels of oil are to be found there.

The planned nuclear submarine will displace 6,000 tonnes and be 96.6 meters in length, with construction planned to take eleven years. It will be driven by a nuclear reactor developed at the Marine Research Centre Aramar.

A land prototype for the entire drive of the nuclear submarine is currently under construction, of equal size to the drive to be built later. Once this test phase has concluded, the entire submarine will be completely assembled for testing purposes in a multiple-story building. For the drive test rig, Vulcan says it has delivered in co-operation with its Brazil and Italy subsidiaries a RATO S 731 coupling and the elastic mounts.


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