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Title: A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications

Abstract

This paper presents a comparison of reactor and power conversion design options for 50 kWe class lunar and Mars surface power applications with scaling from 25 to 200 kWe. Design concepts and integration approaches are provided for three reactor-converter combinations: gas-cooled Brayton, liquid-metal Stirling, and liquid-metal thermoelectric. The study examines the mass and performance of low temperature, stainless steel based reactors and higher temperature refractory reactors. The preferred system implementation approach uses crew-assisted assembly and in-situ radiation shielding via installation of the reactor in an excavated hole. As an alternative, self-deployable system concepts that use earth-delivered, on-board radiation shielding are evaluated. The analyses indicate that among the 50 kWe stainless steel reactor options, the liquid-metal Stirling system provides the lowest mass at about 5300 kg followed by the gas-cooled Brayton at 5700 kg and the liquid-metal thermoelectric at 8400 kg. The use of a higher temperature, refractory reactor favors the gas-cooled Brayton option with a system mass of about 4200 kg as compared to the Stirling and thermoelectric options at 4700 kg and 5600 kg, respectively. The self-deployed concepts with on-board shielding result in a factor of two system mass increase as compared to the in-situ shielded concepts.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio 44135 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20797985
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 813; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: 10. conference on thermophysics applications in microgravity; 23. symposium on space nuclear power and propulsion; 4. conference on human/robotic technology and the national vision for space exploration; 4. symposium on space colonization; 3. symposium on new frontiers and future concepts, Albuquerque, NM (United States), 12-16 Feb 2006; Other Information: DOI: 10.1063/1.2169203; (c) 2006 American Institute of Physics; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
42 ENGINEERING; BRAYTON CYCLE; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DESIGN; ENERGY CONVERSION; LIQUID METALS; MOON; PERFORMANCE; POWER SYSTEMS; REACTORS; SHIELDING; SPACE; SPACE VEHICLES; STAINLESS STEELS; STIRLING ENGINES

Citation Formats

Mason, Lee S. A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1063/1.2169203.
Mason, Lee S. A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications. United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169203.
Mason, Lee S. Fri . "A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications". United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169203.
@article{osti_20797985,
title = {A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications},
author = {Mason, Lee S.},
abstractNote = {This paper presents a comparison of reactor and power conversion design options for 50 kWe class lunar and Mars surface power applications with scaling from 25 to 200 kWe. Design concepts and integration approaches are provided for three reactor-converter combinations: gas-cooled Brayton, liquid-metal Stirling, and liquid-metal thermoelectric. The study examines the mass and performance of low temperature, stainless steel based reactors and higher temperature refractory reactors. The preferred system implementation approach uses crew-assisted assembly and in-situ radiation shielding via installation of the reactor in an excavated hole. As an alternative, self-deployable system concepts that use earth-delivered, on-board radiation shielding are evaluated. The analyses indicate that among the 50 kWe stainless steel reactor options, the liquid-metal Stirling system provides the lowest mass at about 5300 kg followed by the gas-cooled Brayton at 5700 kg and the liquid-metal thermoelectric at 8400 kg. The use of a higher temperature, refractory reactor favors the gas-cooled Brayton option with a system mass of about 4200 kg as compared to the Stirling and thermoelectric options at 4700 kg and 5600 kg, respectively. The self-deployed concepts with on-board shielding result in a factor of two system mass increase as compared to the in-situ shielded concepts.},
doi = {10.1063/1.2169203},
journal = {AIP Conference Proceedings},
number = 1,
volume = 813,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}
  • A nuclear reactor power system such as the affordable fission surface power system enables a potential outpostonthemoon.Aradiation shieldmustbe included in the reactor system to reduce the otherwise excessive dose to the astronauts and other vital system components. The radiation shield is typically the most massive component of a space reactor system, and thus must be optimized to reduce mass asmuchas possible while still providing the required protection.Various shield options for an on-lander reactor system are examined for outpost distances of 400m and 1 kmfromthe reactor. Also investigated is the resulting mass savings from the use of a high performance cermetmore » fuel. A thermal analysis is performed to determine the thermal behaviours of radiation shields using borated water. For an outpost located 1000m from the core, a tetramethylammonium borohydride shield is the lightest (5148.4 kg), followed by a trilayer shield (boron carbide–tungsten–borated water; 5832.3 kg), and finally a borated water shield (6020.7 kg). In all of the final design cases, the temperature of the borated water remains below 400 K.« less
  • No abstract prepared.
  • At the request of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) in May of 2005, a team was assembled within the Prometheus Project to investigate lunar surface nuclear power architectures and provide design and implementation concept inputs to NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture 60-day Study (ESAS) team. System engineering tasks were undertaken to investigate the design and implementation of a Fission Surface Power System (FSPS) that could be launched as early as 2019 as part of a possible initial Lunar Base architecture. As a result of this activity, the Prometheus team evaluated a number of design and implementation concepts as well asmore » a significant number of trades associated with lunar surface power, all culminating in a recommended approach. This paper presents the results of that study, including a recommended FSPS design and implementation concept.« less
  • The Affordable Fission Surface Power System (AFSPS) is a proposed power source for an outpost capable of housing six humans for up to six weeks on the lunar surface and emphasizes the design principles of low risk and affordability over high performance. The radiation shield is the most massive component of the reactor system and its effect on launch mass greatly affects the affordability of the AFSPS. Potential shielding materials include lithium hydride, enriched boron-10 carbide, water, borated water, beryllium, boron-doped beryllium and zirconium hydride. Zirconium hydride is the most effective neutron attenuator and also significantly attenuates gamma radiation, butmore » at a significant mass penalty. The other neutron attenuating materials all require the addition of a tungsten layer to provide significant gamma attenuation. Based on neutron radiation alone, lithium hydride is the lightest of the potential attenuators, followed by water and borated water. When gamma radiation is also considered, the lithium hydride/tungsten shield is shown to be the lightest composite shield with a combined mass of 3246 kg, followed by the borated water/tungsten shield (3479 kg). The boron carbide/tungsten shield has a total mass of 4129 kg, but represents significantly less development risk.« less
  • A decision analysis study was conducted to evaluate potential habitat power concepts for manned lunar-surface operations. The objectives of the study were to rank alternative lunar-surface power systems for the first lunar outpost (FLO). The six alternative power concepts evaluated are the following: photovoltaic with regenerative fuel cell (RFC) storage, solar dynamic with RFC storage, TOPAZ 2 and SP-100 space reactor systems, dynamic isotope power system (DIPS), and laser-beamed power. The analytical hierarchy decision-making process was used for the decision-making methodology. The process provides a systematic approach to managing complex decisions that involve numerous tradeoffs between alternative concepts and evaluationmore » criteria. Safety, risk, performance, lifetime, supportability, special factors, and versatility were selected as the major evaluation criteria. Based on the available information, DIPS was the power system of choice for a 45-day, 12-kWe FLO mission because of its favorable combination of ranking and cost. When launch costs were not considered, the photovoltaic system with RFC storage ranked first. The results of this study reflect the best judgments of the working group, given the set of requirements, the agreed-on set of selection criteria, and the best available concept information. 7 refs.« less