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Even the electrical enclosures are innovative on new aircraft carriers

Even the electrical enclosures are innovative on new aircraft carriers

Following David Cameron's announcement that both will be taken into service with the Royal Navy, renewed excitement has gripped the engineers building Britain's two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. With renewed excitement comes renewed innovation, including specially coated enclosures from Spelsberg UK.

The 280m-long carriers are the largest-ever ships built for the Royal Navy. The ships will be equipped with a variety of aircraft types including F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and helicopters. As the future flagships of the Royal Navy, every technical detail of these giant, cutting-edge warships has been carefully thought through.

To drive all the on-board systems, each ship is capable of generating 110MW of power. This is distributed around the ship via 1.5 million metres of cable, so an enormous number of junction boxes and enclosures are required. The boxes need to be incredibly tough, withstanding the salty marine atmosphere, the rigours of naval exercises and possibly the actual heat of battle. They also have to be safe and completely predictable in the event of a fire.

It might be expected that, due to their inherent strength, metal junction boxes would be used in the multitude of electrical systems on board each carrier. However, metal units are prone to damage caused by corrosion and denting, so the Aircraft Carrier Alliance which is building these ships, has opted for polycarbonate units.

Spelsberg UK enclosures were previously specified during the first stage of the project, but now the company has been asked to supply models from its TK range - each one precisely customised for its particular duty.

Each box is internally spray-coated with a special metallic paint that inhibits EMC transmissions. Then they have several coatings applied to their outer surfaces; one is anti-reflective, while another ensures that in the event of a major fire they do not melt and drip, but instead turn into a foam that continues to protect the electrical connections within it.

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