A Review of Previous Research in Direct Energy Conversion Fission Reactors

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From the earliest days of power reactor development, direct energy conversion was an obvious choice to produce high efficiency electric power generation. Directly capturing the energy of the fission fragments produced during nuclear fission avoids the intermediate conversion to thermal energy and the efficiency limitations of classical thermodynamics. Efficiencies of more than 80% are possible, independent of operational temperature. Direct energy conversion fission reactors would possess a number of unique characteristics that would make them very attractive for commercial power generation. These reactors would be modular in design with integral power conversion and operate at low pressures and temperatures. They ... continued below

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6 p.

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DUONG,HENRY; POLANSKY,GARY F.; SANDERS,THOMAS L. & SIEGEL,MALCOLM D. September 22, 1999.

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  • Sandia National Laboratories
    Publisher Info: Sandia National Labs., Albuquerque, NM, and Livermore, CA (United States)
    Place of Publication: Albuquerque, New Mexico

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From the earliest days of power reactor development, direct energy conversion was an obvious choice to produce high efficiency electric power generation. Directly capturing the energy of the fission fragments produced during nuclear fission avoids the intermediate conversion to thermal energy and the efficiency limitations of classical thermodynamics. Efficiencies of more than 80% are possible, independent of operational temperature. Direct energy conversion fission reactors would possess a number of unique characteristics that would make them very attractive for commercial power generation. These reactors would be modular in design with integral power conversion and operate at low pressures and temperatures. They would operate at high efficiency and produce power well suited for long distance transmission. They would feature large safety margins and passively safe design. Ideally suited to production by advanced manufacturing techniques, direct energy conversion fission reactors could be produced more economically than conventional reactor designs. The history of direct energy conversion can be considered as dating back to 1913 when Moseleyl demonstrated that charged particle emission could be used to buildup a voltage. Soon after the successful operation of a nuclear reactor, E.P. Wigner suggested the use of fission fragments for direct energy conversion. Over a decade after Wigner's suggestion, the first theoretical treatment of the conversion of fission fragment kinetic energy into electrical potential appeared in the literature. Over the ten years that followed, a number of researchers investigated various aspects of fission fragment direct energy conversion. Experiments were performed that validated the basic physics of the concept, but a variety of technical challenges limited the efficiencies that were achieved. Most research in direct energy conversion ceased in the US by the late 1960s. Sporadic interest in the concept appears in the literature until this day, but there have been no recent significant programs to develop the technology.

Physical Description

6 p.

Notes

INIS; OSTI as DE00013075

Medium: P; Size: 6 pages

Source

  • Second International Symposium on the History of Atomic Projects (HISAP '99). The 1950s: Sociopolitical, Environmental, and Engineering Lessons Learned, Vienna (AT), 10/04/1999--10/08/1999

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  • Report No.: SAND99-1949C
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 13075
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc621740

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  • September 22, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • April 11, 2017, 2:48 p.m.

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DUONG,HENRY; POLANSKY,GARY F.; SANDERS,THOMAS L. & SIEGEL,MALCOLM D. A Review of Previous Research in Direct Energy Conversion Fission Reactors, article, September 22, 1999; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc621740/: accessed January 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.