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Title: Planetary Surface Power and Interstellar Propulsion Using Fission Fragment Magnetic Collimator Reactor

Abstract

Fission energy can be used directly if the kinetic energy of fission fragments is converted to electricity and/or thrust before turning into heat. The completed US DOE NERI Direct Energy Conversion (DEC) Power Production project indicates that viable DEC systems are possible. The US DOE NERI DEC Proof of Principle project began in October of 2002 with the goal to demonstrate performance principles of DEC systems. One of the emerging DEC concepts is represented by fission fragment magnetic collimator reactors (FFMCR). Safety, simplicity, and high conversion efficiency are the unique advantages offered by these systems. In the FFMCR, the basic energy source is the kinetic energy of fission fragments. Following escape from thin fuel layers, they are captured on magnetic field lines and are directed out of the core and through magnetic collimators to produce electricity and thrust. The exiting flow of energetic fission fragments has a very high specific impulse that allows efficient planetary surface power and interstellar propulsion without carrying any conventional propellant onboard. The objective of this work was to determine technological feasibility of the concept. This objective was accomplished by producing the FFMCR design and by analysis of its performance characteristics. The paper presents the FFMCRmore » concept, describes its development to a technologically feasible level and discusses obtained results. Performed studies offer efficiencies up to 90% and velocities approaching speed of light as potentially achievable. The unmanned 10-tons probe with 1000 MW FFMCR propulsion unit would attain mission velocity of about 2% of the speed of light. If the unit is designed for 4000 MW, then in 10 years the unmanned 10-tons probe would attain mission velocity of about 10% of the speed of light.« less

Authors:
;  [1]; ;  [2]
  1. Department of Nuclear Engineering, Texas A and M University, 129 Zachry, MS-3133, College Station, TX 77843 (United States)
  2. Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. Box 5800, Albuquerque, NM 87185 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20798022
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: 10.1063/1.2169262; (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; COLLIMATORS; DESIGN; DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; EFFICIENCY; FISSION FRAGMENTS; KINETIC ENERGY; MAGNETIC FIELDS; PERFORMANCE; POWER GENERATION; PROPULSION; PULSES; REACTORS; SURFACES; US DOE

Citation Formats

Tsvetkov, Pavel V., Hart, Ron R., King, Don B., and Rochau, Gary E.. Planetary Surface Power and Interstellar Propulsion Using Fission Fragment Magnetic Collimator Reactor. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1063/1.2169262.
Tsvetkov, Pavel V., Hart, Ron R., King, Don B., & Rochau, Gary E.. Planetary Surface Power and Interstellar Propulsion Using Fission Fragment Magnetic Collimator Reactor. United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169262.
Tsvetkov, Pavel V., Hart, Ron R., King, Don B., and Rochau, Gary E.. Fri . "Planetary Surface Power and Interstellar Propulsion Using Fission Fragment Magnetic Collimator Reactor". United States. doi:10.1063/1.2169262.
@article{osti_20798022,
title = {Planetary Surface Power and Interstellar Propulsion Using Fission Fragment Magnetic Collimator Reactor},
author = {Tsvetkov, Pavel V. and Hart, Ron R. and King, Don B. and Rochau, Gary E.},
abstractNote = {Fission energy can be used directly if the kinetic energy of fission fragments is converted to electricity and/or thrust before turning into heat. The completed US DOE NERI Direct Energy Conversion (DEC) Power Production project indicates that viable DEC systems are possible. The US DOE NERI DEC Proof of Principle project began in October of 2002 with the goal to demonstrate performance principles of DEC systems. One of the emerging DEC concepts is represented by fission fragment magnetic collimator reactors (FFMCR). Safety, simplicity, and high conversion efficiency are the unique advantages offered by these systems. In the FFMCR, the basic energy source is the kinetic energy of fission fragments. Following escape from thin fuel layers, they are captured on magnetic field lines and are directed out of the core and through magnetic collimators to produce electricity and thrust. The exiting flow of energetic fission fragments has a very high specific impulse that allows efficient planetary surface power and interstellar propulsion without carrying any conventional propellant onboard. The objective of this work was to determine technological feasibility of the concept. This objective was accomplished by producing the FFMCR design and by analysis of its performance characteristics. The paper presents the FFMCR concept, describes its development to a technologically feasible level and discusses obtained results. Performed studies offer efficiencies up to 90% and velocities approaching speed of light as potentially achievable. The unmanned 10-tons probe with 1000 MW FFMCR propulsion unit would attain mission velocity of about 2% of the speed of light. If the unit is designed for 4000 MW, then in 10 years the unmanned 10-tons probe would attain mission velocity of about 10% of the speed of light.},
doi = {10.1063/1.2169262},
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 exploration and development of Mars will require abundant surface power. Nuclear reactors are a low-cost, low-mass means of providing that power. A significant fraction of the nuclear power system mass is radiation shielding necessary for protecting humans and/or equipment from radiation emitted by the reactor. For planetary surface missions, it may be desirable to provide some or all of the required shielding from indigenous materials. This paper examines shielding options that utilize either purely indigenous materials or a combination of indigenous and nonindigenous materials. {copyright} {ital 1999 American Institute of Physics.}
  • The exploration and development of Mars will require abundant surface power. Nuclear reactors are a low-cost, low-mass means of providing that power. A significant fraction of the nuclear power system mass is radiation shielding necessary for protecting humans and/or equipment from radiation emitted by the reactor. For planetary surface missions, it may be desirable to provide some or all of the required shielding from indigenous materials. This paper examines shielding options that utilize either purely indigenous materials or a combination of indigenous and nonindigenous materials.
  • Spectral indices measurements performed in 2004 at the CEA MINERVE facility loaded with the R-UO{sub 2} lattice, using calibration data acquired at the SCK center dot CEN BR1 facility in 2001, resulted in ambivalent conclusions. On one hand, spectral indices involving only fissile isotopes gave consistent discrepancies between calculation and experiment. On the other hand, spectral indices involving both fissile and fertile isotopes, in particular the {sup 238}U(n, f)/{sup 235}U(n, f) spectral index, showed inconsistent results depending on the type of calibration data used. For different reasons, no definitive explanation was given at that time. In 2009, the preparation ofmore » the AMMON program at the EOLE facility motivated the manufacturing of a new set of detectors. At the same time, the re-installation of the R1-UO{sub 2} lattice in MINERVE provided the opportunity to carry out again a spectral indices measurement campaign. Nevertheless, although the isotopic compositions of active deposits were better known than previously, the comparison between experimental results and calculations still lead to inconsistent discrepancies. In April 2010, a new calibration series conducted again at the BR1 facility allowed the CEA to reanalyze the spectral indices measurements performed in 2009. With these very latest calibration data, experimental values of spectral indices finally matched calculations within the uncertainty margins. This paper also sums up the work that has been achieved to explain the incoherencies observed in 2004. (authors)« less