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Title: Gas-cooled reactor power systems for space

Abstract

Efficiency and mass characteristics for four gas-cooled reactor power system configurations in the 2- to 20-MWe power range are modeled. The configurations use direct and indirect Brayton cycles with and without regeneration in the power conversion loop. The prismatic ceramic core of the reactor consists of several thousand pencil-shaped tubes made from a homogeneous mixture of moderator and fuel. The heat rejection system is found to be the major contributor to system mass, particularly at high power levels. A direct, regenerated Brayton cycle with helium working fluid permits high efficiency and low specific mass for a 10-MWe system.

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA (USA)
OSTI Identifier:
5626565
Report Number(s):
UCRL-95047-Rev.2; CONF-870102-1-Rev.2
ON: DE88005220
DOE Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: 4. symposium on space nuclear power systems, Albuquerque, NM, USA, 12 Jan 1987; Other Information: Portions of this document are illegible in microfiche products
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; GAS COOLED REACTORS; SPACECRAFT POWER SUPPLIES; BRAYTON CYCLE; CONFIGURATION; EFFICIENCY; PERFORMANCE; REACTOR CORES; SYSTEMS ANALYSIS; ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT; EQUIPMENT; POWER SUPPLIES; REACTOR COMPONENTS; REACTORS; THERMODYNAMIC CYCLES; 210300* - Power Reactors, Nonbreeding, Graphite Moderated

Citation Formats

Walter, C.E. Gas-cooled reactor power systems for space. United States: N. p., 1987. Web.
Walter, C.E. Gas-cooled reactor power systems for space. United States.
Walter, C.E. Thu . "Gas-cooled reactor power systems for space". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/5626565.
@article{osti_5626565,
title = {Gas-cooled reactor power systems for space},
author = {Walter, C.E.},
abstractNote = {Efficiency and mass characteristics for four gas-cooled reactor power system configurations in the 2- to 20-MWe power range are modeled. The configurations use direct and indirect Brayton cycles with and without regeneration in the power conversion loop. The prismatic ceramic core of the reactor consists of several thousand pencil-shaped tubes made from a homogeneous mixture of moderator and fuel. The heat rejection system is found to be the major contributor to system mass, particularly at high power levels. A direct, regenerated Brayton cycle with helium working fluid permits high efficiency and low specific mass for a 10-MWe system.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1987},
month = {Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1987}
}

Conference:
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  • In this paper the characteristics of six designs for power levels of 2, 10, and 20 MWe for operating times of 1 and 7 y are described. The operating conditions for these arbitrary designs were chosen to minimize system specific mass. The designs are based on recent work which benefits from earlier analyses of nuclear space power systems conducted at our Laboratory. Both gas- and liquid-cooled reactors had been considered. Pitts and Walter (1970) reported on the results of a detailed study of a 10-MWe lithium-cooled reactor in a potassium Rankine system. Unpublished results (1966) of a computer analysis providemore » details of an argon-cooled reactor in an argon Brayton system. The gas-cooled reactor design was based on extensive development work on the 500-MWth reactor for the nuclear ramjet (Pluto) as described by Walter (1964). The designs discussed here draw heavily on the Pluto project experience, which culminated in a successful full-power ground test as reported by Reynolds (1964). At higher power levels gas-cooled reactors coupled with Brayton systems with advanced radiator designs become attractive.« less
  • Reactor characteristics based on extensive development work on the 500-MWt reactor for the Pluto nuclear ramjet are described for space power systems useful in the range of 2 to 20 MWe for operating times of 1 y. The modest pressure drop through the prismatic ceramic core is supported at the outlet end by a ceramic dome which also serves as a neutron reflector. Three core materials are considered which are useful at temperatures up to about 2000 K. Most of the calculations are based on a beryllium oxide with uranium dioxide core. Reactor control is accomplished by use of amore » burnable poison, a variable-leakage reflector, and internal control rods. Reactivity swings of 20% are obtained with a dozen internal boron-10 rods for the size cores studied. Criticality calculations were performed using the ALICE Monte Carlo code. The inherent high-temperature capability of the reactor design removes the reactor as a limiting condition on system performance. The low fuel inventories required, particularly for beryllium oxide reactors, make space power systems based on gas-cooled near-thermal reactors a lesser safeguard risk than those based on fast reactors.« less
  • The conceptual design of a 100-kWe space reactor electric system to satisfy the design goals of the Tri-Agency SP-100 Program has been completed. The system was selected from an initial field of over 500 potential choices covering a wide range of reactor, power converter, shield, heat transport, and radiator subsystems. The selected system -- a lithium-cooled, UN-fueled, refractory-clad reactor coupled to a redundant pair of 110-kWe (gross) Brayton turboelectric power converters -shows strong promise of not only meeting the SP-100 Program design goals but also of providing for substantial growth in power levels for potential future needs.
  • The Experimental Gas Cooled Reactor (EGCR) facility and the supporting technical infrastructure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have the capabilities of performing ground tests of space nuclear power reactor systems. A candidate test would be a 10 MWt lithium cooled reactor, generating potassium vapor that would drive a power turbine. The facility is a large containment vessel originally intended to test the EGCR. Large, contained, and shielded spaces are available for testing, assembly, disassembly, and post-test examination.
  • The Experimental Gas Cooled Reactor (EGCR) facility and the supporting technical infrastructure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have the capabilities of performing ground tests of space nuclear power reactor systems. A candidate test would be a 10 MWt lithium cooled reactor, generating potassium vapor that would drive a power turbine. The facility is a large containment vessel originally intended to test the EGCR. Large, contained, and shielded spaces are available for testing, assembly, disassembly, and post-test examination.