Heatpipe space power and propulsion systems

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Safe, reliable, low-mass space power and propulsion systems could have numerous civilian and military applications. This paper discusses two fission-powered concepts: the Heatpipe Power System (HPS) that provides power only, and the Heatpipe Bimodal System (HBS) that provides both power and thermal propulsion. Both concepts have 10 important features. First, only existing technology and recently tested fuel forms are used. Second, fuel can be removed whenever desired, greatly facilitating system fabrication and handling. Third, full electrically heated system testing is possible, with minimal operations required to replace the heaters with fuel and ready the system for launch. Fourth, the systems ... continued below

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8 p.

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Houts, M. G.; Poston, D. I. & Ranken, W. A. July 1, 1995.

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Description

Safe, reliable, low-mass space power and propulsion systems could have numerous civilian and military applications. This paper discusses two fission-powered concepts: the Heatpipe Power System (HPS) that provides power only, and the Heatpipe Bimodal System (HBS) that provides both power and thermal propulsion. Both concepts have 10 important features. First, only existing technology and recently tested fuel forms are used. Second, fuel can be removed whenever desired, greatly facilitating system fabrication and handling. Third, full electrically heated system testing is possible, with minimal operations required to replace the heaters with fuel and ready the system for launch. Fourth, the systems are passively subcritical during launch accidents. Fifth, a modular approach is used, and most technical issues can be resolved with inexpensive module tests. Sixth, bonds between dissimilar metals are minimized. Seventh, there are no single point failures during power mode operation. Eighth, fuel burnup rate is quite low to help ensure greater than 10-year system life. Ninth, there are no pumped coolant loops, and the systems can be shut down and restarted without coolant freeze/thaw concerns. Finally, a full ground nuclear test is not needed, and development costs will be low. The baseline HPS uses SNAP-10A-style thermoelectric power converters to produce 5 kWe at a system mass of about 500 kg. The unicouple thermoelectric converters have a hot shoe temperature of 1275 K and reject waste heat at 775 K. This type of thermoelectric converter has been used extensively by the space program, demonstrating an operational lifetime of decades. At higher thermal power, the same core can produce over 10 kWe using thermoelectric converters, and over 50 kWe using advanced power conversion systems.

Physical Description

8 p.

Notes

OSTI as DE95014013

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  • 30. intersociety energy conversion engineering conference, Orlando, FL (United States), 30 Jul - 5 Aug 1995

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  • Other: DE95014013
  • Report No.: LA-UR--95-1383
  • Report No.: CONF-950729--10
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 82388
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc782497

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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.

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  • July 1, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • April 21, 2016, 10:20 p.m.

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Houts, M. G.; Poston, D. I. & Ranken, W. A. Heatpipe space power and propulsion systems, article, July 1, 1995; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782497/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.