A Basic LEGO Reactor Design for the Provision of Lunar Surface Power

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A final design has been established for a basic Lunar Evolutionary Growth-Optimized (LEGO) Reactor using current and near-term technologies. The LEGO Reactor is a modular, fast-fission, heatpipe-cooled, clustered-reactor system for lunar-surface power generation. The reactor is divided into subcritical units that can be safely launched with lunar shipments from Earth, and then emplaced directly into holes drilled into the lunar regolith to form a critical reactor assembly. The regolith would not just provide radiation shielding, but serve as neutron-reflector material as well. The reactor subunits are to be manufactured using proven and tested materials for use in radiation environments, such ... continued below

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Bess, John Darrell June 1, 2008.

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A final design has been established for a basic Lunar Evolutionary Growth-Optimized (LEGO) Reactor using current and near-term technologies. The LEGO Reactor is a modular, fast-fission, heatpipe-cooled, clustered-reactor system for lunar-surface power generation. The reactor is divided into subcritical units that can be safely launched with lunar shipments from Earth, and then emplaced directly into holes drilled into the lunar regolith to form a critical reactor assembly. The regolith would not just provide radiation shielding, but serve as neutron-reflector material as well. The reactor subunits are to be manufactured using proven and tested materials for use in radiation environments, such as uranium-dioxide fuel, stainless-steel cladding and structural support, and liquid-sodium heatpipes. The LEGO Reactor system promotes reliability, safety, and ease of manufacture and testing at the cost of an increase in launch mass per overall rated power level and a reduction in neutron economy when compared to a single-reactor system. A single unshielded LEGO Reactor subunit has an estimated mass of approximately 448 kg and provides approximately 5 kWe. The overall envelope for a single subunit with fully extended radiator panels has a height of 8.77 m and a diameter of 0.50 m. Six subunits could provide sufficient power generation throughout the initial stages of establishing a lunar outpost. Portions of the reactor may be neutronically decoupled to allow for reduced power production during unmanned periods of base operations. During later stages of lunar-base development, additional subunits may be emplaced and coupled into the existing LEGO Reactor network, subject to lunar base power demand. Improvements in reactor control methods, fuel form and matrix, shielding, as well as power conversion and heat rejection techniques can help generate an even more competitive LEGO Reactor design. Further modifications in the design could provide power generative opportunities for use on other extraterrestrial surfaces.

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  • International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants (ICAPP '08) @ ANS Annual Meeting,Anaheim, California,06/08/2008,06/12/2008

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-08-14353
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 935462
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc895433

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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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  • June 1, 2008

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 18, 2016, 3 p.m.

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Bess, John Darrell. A Basic LEGO Reactor Design for the Provision of Lunar Surface Power, article, June 1, 2008; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc895433/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.