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Title: Zero Boil-Off System Design and Thermal Analysis of the Bimodal Thermal Nuclear Rocket

Abstract

Mars exploration studies at NASA are evaluating vehicles that incorporate Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket (BNTR) propulsion which use a high temperature nuclear fission reactor and hydrogen to produce thermal propulsion. The hydrogen propellant is to be stored in liquid state for periods up to 18 months. To prevent boil-off of the liquid hydrogen, a system of passive and active components are needed to prevent heat from entering the tanks and to remove any heat that does. This report describes the design of the system components used for the BNTR Crew Transfer Vehicle and the thermal analysis performed. The results show that Zero Boil-Off (ZBO) can be achieved with the electrical power allocated for the ZBO system.

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. ZinTechnologies, 2001 Aerospace Parkway, Brook Park, OH 44142 (United States)
  2. NASA Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20798002
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: 10.1063/1.2169227; (c) 2006 American Institute of Physics; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; DESIGN; FISSION; HYDROGEN; LIQUIDS; NASA; PROPULSION; REACTORS; ROCKETS; SPACE VEHICLES; THERMAL ANALYSIS; NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems

Citation Formats

Christie, Robert J., and Plachta, David W. Zero Boil-Off System Design and Thermal Analysis of the Bimodal Thermal Nuclear Rocket. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1063/1.2169227.
Christie, Robert J., & Plachta, David W. Zero Boil-Off System Design and Thermal Analysis of the Bimodal Thermal Nuclear Rocket. United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169227.
Christie, Robert J., and Plachta, David W. Fri . "Zero Boil-Off System Design and Thermal Analysis of the Bimodal Thermal Nuclear Rocket". United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169227.
@article{osti_20798002,
title = {Zero Boil-Off System Design and Thermal Analysis of the Bimodal Thermal Nuclear Rocket},
author = {Christie, Robert J. and Plachta, David W.},
abstractNote = {Mars exploration studies at NASA are evaluating vehicles that incorporate Bimodal Nuclear Thermal Rocket (BNTR) propulsion which use a high temperature nuclear fission reactor and hydrogen to produce thermal propulsion. The hydrogen propellant is to be stored in liquid state for periods up to 18 months. To prevent boil-off of the liquid hydrogen, a system of passive and active components are needed to prevent heat from entering the tanks and to remove any heat that does. This report describes the design of the system components used for the BNTR Crew Transfer Vehicle and the thermal analysis performed. The results show that Zero Boil-Off (ZBO) can be achieved with the electrical power allocated for the ZBO system.},
doi = {10.1063/1.2169227},
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}
}
  • The Nuclear Thermal Rocket is an enabling technology for human exploration missions. The 'bimodal' NTR (BNTR) provides a novel approach to meeting both propulsion and power requirements of future manned and robotic missions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate tie-tube cooling configurations, NTR performance, Brayton cycle performance, and LOX-Augmented NTR (LANTR) feasibility to arrive at a point of departure BNTR configuration for subsequent system definition.
  • A computational analysis is conducted to determine the optimum thermal-hydraulic design parameters for a square-lattice honeycomb nuclear rocket engine core that will incorporate ternary carbide based uranium fuels. Recent studies at the Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute (INSPI) have demonstrated the feasibility of processing solid solution, ternary carbide fuels such as (U, Zr, Nb)C, (U, Zr, Ta)C, (U, Zr, Hf)C and (U, Zr, W)C. The square-lattice honeycomb design provides high strength and is amenable to the processing complexities of these ultrahigh temperature fuels. A parametric analysis is conducted to examine how core geometry, fuel thickness and the propellantmore » flow area effect the thermal performance of the nuclear rocket engine. The principal variables include core size (length and diameter) and fuel element dimensions. The optimum core configuration requires a balance between high specific impulse and thrust level performance, and maintaining the temperature and strength limits of the fuel. A nuclear rocket engine simulation code is developed and used to examine the system performance as well as the performance of the main reactor core components. The system simulation code was originally developed for analysis of NERVA-Derivative and Pratt and Whitney XNR-2000 nuclear thermal rockets. The code is modified and adopted to the square-lattice geometry of the new fuel design. Thrust levels ranging from 44,500 to 222,400 N (10,000 to 50,000 lbf) are considered. The average hydrogen exit temperature is kept at 2800 K, which is well below the melting point of these fuels. For a nozzle area ratio of 300 and a thrust chamber pressure of 4.8 Mpa (700 psi), the specific impulse is 930 s. Hydrogen temperature and pressure distributions in the core and the fuel maximum temperatures are calculated.« less
  • The reactor design of a space power reactor, bimodal pellet-bed reactor, is dicussed. A diagram is included.
  • Two relatively simple models have been developed to estimate reactor, radiation shield, and balance of system masses for a particle bed reactor (PBR) nuclear thermal propulsion concept and a cermet-core power and propulsion (bimodal) concept. The approach was based on the methodology developed for the RSMASS-D models. The RSMASS-D approach for the reactor and shield sub-systems uses a combination of simple equations derived from reactor physics and other fundamental considerations along with tabulations of data from more detailed neutron and gamma transport theory computations. Relatively simple models are used to estimate the masses of other subsystem components of the nuclearmore » propulsion and bimodal systems. Other subsystem components include instrumentation and control (I&C), boom, safety systems, radiator, thermoelectrics, heat pipes, and nozzle. The user of these models can vary basic design parameters within an allowed range to achieve a parameter choice which yields a minimum mass for the operational conditions of interest. Estimated system masses are presented for a range of reactor power levels for propulsion for the PBR propulsion concept and for both electrical power and propulsion for the cermet-core bimodal concept. The estimated reactor system masses agree with mass predictions from detailed calculations with xx percent for both models. {copyright} {ital 1997 American Institute of Physics.}« less
  • Two relatively simple models have been developed to estimate reactor, radiation shield, and balance of system masses for a particle bed reactor (PBR) nuclear thermal propulsion concept and a cermet-core power and propulsion (bimodal) concept. The approach was based on the methodology developed for the RSMASS-D models. The RSMASS-D approach for the reactor and shield sub-systems uses a combination of simple equations derived from reactor physics and other fundamental considerations along with tabulations of data from more detailed neutron and gamma transport theory computations. Relatively simple models are used to estimate the masses of other subsystem components of the nuclearmore » propulsion and bimodal systems. Other subsystem components include instrumentation and control (I and C), boom, safety systems, radiator, thermoelectrics, heat pipes, and nozzle. The user of these models can vary basic design parameters within an allowed range to achieve a parameter choice which yields a minimum mass for the operational conditions of interest. Estimated system masses are presented for a range of reactor power levels for propulsion for the PBR propulsion concept and for both electrical power and propulsion for the cermet-core bimodal concept. The estimated reactor system masses agree with mass predictions from detailed calculations with xx percent for both models.« less