Development of Liquid-Vapor Core Reactors with MHD Generator for Space Power and Propulsion Applications

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Any reactor that utilizes fuel consisting of a fissile material in a gaseous state may be referred to as a gaseous core reactor (GCR). Studies on GCRs have primarily been limited to the conceptual phase, mostly due to budget cuts and program cancellations in the early 1970's. A few scientific experiments have been conducted on candidate concepts, primarily of static pressure fissile gas filling a cylindrical or spherical cavity surrounded by a moderating shell, such as beryllium, heavy water, or graphite. The main interest in this area of nuclear power generation is for space applications. The interest in space applications ... continued below

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Anghaie, Samim August 13, 2002.

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Description

Any reactor that utilizes fuel consisting of a fissile material in a gaseous state may be referred to as a gaseous core reactor (GCR). Studies on GCRs have primarily been limited to the conceptual phase, mostly due to budget cuts and program cancellations in the early 1970's. A few scientific experiments have been conducted on candidate concepts, primarily of static pressure fissile gas filling a cylindrical or spherical cavity surrounded by a moderating shell, such as beryllium, heavy water, or graphite. The main interest in this area of nuclear power generation is for space applications. The interest in space applications has developed due to the promise of significant enhancement in fuel utilization, safety, plant efficiency, special high-performance features, load-following capabilities, power conversion optimization, and other key aspects of nuclear power generation. The design of a successful GCR adapted for use in space is complicated. The fissile material studied in the pa st has been in a fluorine compound, either a tetrafluoride or a hexafluoride. Both of these molecules have an impact on the structural material used in the making of a GCR. Uranium hexafluoride as a fuel allows for a lower operating temperature, but at temperatures greater than 900K becomes essentially impossible to contain. This difficulty with the use of UF6 has caused engineers and scientists to use uranium tetrafluoride, which is a more stable molecule but has the disadvantage of requiring significantly higher operating temperatures. Gas core reactors have traditionally been studied in a steady state configuration. In this manner a fissile gas and working fluid are introduced into the core, called a cavity, that is surrounded by a reflector constructed of materials such as Be or BeO. These reactors have often been described as cavity reactors because the density of the fissile gas is low and criticality is achieved only by means of the reflector to reduce neutron leakage from the core. Still there are problems of containment since many of the proposed vessel materials such as W or Mo have high neutron cross sections making the design of a critical system difficult. There is also the possibility for a GCR to remain in a subcritical state, and by the use of a shockwave mechanism, increase the pressure and temperature inside the core to achieve criticality. This type of GCR is referred to as a shockwave-driven pulsed gas core reactor. These two basic designs were evaluated as advance concepts for space power and propulsion.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00799231

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  • Other Information: PBD: 13 Aug 2002

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  • Report No.: DOE/ID/13635
  • Grant Number: FG07-98ID13635
  • DOI: 10.2172/799231 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 799231
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc742076

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • August 13, 2002

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  • Oct. 19, 2015, 7:39 p.m.

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  • Dec. 16, 2016, 6:59 p.m.

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Anghaie, Samim. Development of Liquid-Vapor Core Reactors with MHD Generator for Space Power and Propulsion Applications, report, August 13, 2002; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc742076/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.