How Does A Submarine Work?

Submarine means something that can go deep into the water even to a level where good divers cannot dream of going. We will now discuss all about submarines and how does a submarine work?

How Does A Submarine Work

How Submarines Work

Submarines are huge vessels that can go deep into the ocean and cannot be seen from the top of the ocean. They can be of any size. Mostly they are small in size. They are used a lot for military purpose. However, in the recent past they have been used even for research and development. They are also called sub for short.

The submarine is generally cylindrical in shape and has conical ends. Normally They need to be operated by human operators. However, in today’s world small submarines are used with such remote controls that they can go deep into the sea without human presence within the sub. This is exactly why they are used in research of those areas where it would be risky to send human beings.

The concept how submarines work is very simple. A submarine has an inner and outer shell. Between them is space that holds a ballast tank. The ballast tank can either be filled with water or air. When the submarine is on the surface of the water the ballast tank is filled with air as a result it floats on the surface of sea water. We have already studied this concept in detail in our article on how ships float due to buoyancy, so you can check our this article to read in more detail about the basics of this phenomenon.

Similarly, when the submarine has to go down the operator fills the ballast tank with water using appropriate on-board mechanisms and the boat becomes too heavy to float to water just sinks below the water. The ballast tanks have valves in them so that air can slowly move out and in. When the density of the submarine is more than the water around it the submarine starts to sink. This is also called the negative buoyancy in physics. When the submarine reaches at the level where the operator wants it to stay the ballast tanks are opened again.

The crew ensures that the air and water mix in the submarine is such that the density is similar to the water around the submarine. This ensures that the submarine does not sink any further. This state is called neutral buoyancy. The hydroplanes are made straight so that the submarine can move forward in the water. When the submarine has to come up to the surface of the water the operator opens the valves again and lets the air out. As a result the effective density of the submarine starts becoming less than the water around and it slowly starts rising. This is called positive buoyancy.

Interesting right! Nevertheless, this is just a bird’s eye view of how a submarine actually works so that you can understand the concept better. We must mention here that the crew which operates the submarine has to be very well trained and they must know exactly what the buoyancy of the submarine must be like for it to operate smoothly. With the advancement in technology we have a lot of different technologies and concepts that make a submarine work. We cannot cover them all in this article. However, the fact remains that no matter how big or small the submarine is this is the concept that is used to operate them.

Another interesting point to be noted here is that most submarines have human occupants within them. How can they survive without proper supply of oxygen, fresh water and comfortable temperature? The submarines are designed so that they can provide all these. When we breathe we give out carbon dioxide which is a poisonous gas this is exactly why the submarine is supported with a device that is called scrubber. This reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by a large margin.

A machine called oxygen generator which extracts oxygen from the sea water and put it into the air inside the submarine. Equipment called dehumidifier removes the humidity from the air. If the air remains humid then it might as well rain inside the submarine. The temperature inside the submarine is maintained with electrical heaters as the water outside can be very cold. It can even be freezing at times. This is exactly how it is possible for life to survive in a submarine. I hope by now you have got a fair idea now of how does a submarine work.

Acknowledgement: Image Taken Courtesy “How Stuff Works”

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