Date of Award

Spring 1989

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The need for developing propulsion systems to support missions of increased endurance for autonomous underwater vehicles is investigated and a conceptual system is proposed, based on currently available technology and desired system characteristics.

The investigation evaluates and ranks alternative energy sources and proposes the use of a closed Brayton cycle gas turbine power plant using a chemical energy heat source with a metallic fuel. A thruster system using electric propulsion motors and screw propellers is selected. Evaluation factors include reliability, depth independent operation, weight, endurance, quietness and efficiency. Reliability of the proposed system is analyzed and the design modified to meet proposed reliability requirements. A knowledge-based system is developed to manage the operation of the propulsion plant in an autonomous manner. A simulation system is developed using Common Lisp and the operation of the propulsion plant and its knowledge-based management system are evaluated using the simulator.