How Nuclear Submarines Remain Submerged for Months

How do these beasts provide their crew with air, hydration, and nutrition underwater for months?
Loukia Papadopoulos

Nuclear submarines are amazing marvels of engineering that lurk in the world's oceans sometimes staying submerged for months at a time. They have several uses but are extremely adept at being employed as modern weapons.

When you watch these beasts of the sea you can not help but wonder: how do they function? Indeed, nuclear submarines must maintain a crew of at least 100 providing air, hydration, and nutrition for them the whole time they are underwater.

Air is a complicated matter as the submarine not only needs to provide breathable oxygen, the ship must also find what to do with the carbon dioxide released by the crew. The first part is handled through a process known as electrolysis which splits water to produce hydrogen gas and oxygen gas.

The second part is handled by carbon dioxide scrubbers and carbon monoxide burners that use a chemical process that causes the CO2 to combine with compounds called amines that can then be stored in non-gaseous forms. But that's not all. A submarine must also deal with humidity, particulate matters in the air, and potential smelly odors. 

And that's the beginning. It does not even account for how the crew receives fresh water. Want to find out more about all these nifty processes used by nuclear submarines? Watch our video. 

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