Description: The Naval Reactors Program led work on the development of a reactor plant system for the Prometheus space reactor program. The work centered on a 200 kWe electric reactor plant with a 15-20 year mission applicable to nuclear electric propulsion (NEP). After a review of all reactor and energy conversion alternatives, a direct gas Brayton reactor plant was selected for further development. The work performed subsequent to this selection included preliminary nuclear reactor and reactor plant design, development of instrumentation and control techniques, modeling reactor plant operational features, development and testing of core and plant material options, and development of an overall project plan. Prior to restructuring of the program, substantial progress had been made on defining reference plant operating conditions, defining reactor mechanical, thermal and nuclear performance, understanding the capabilities and uncertainties provided by material alternatives, and planning non-nuclear and nuclear system testing. The mission requirements for the envisioned NEP missions cannot be accommodated with existing reactor technologies. Therefore concurrent design, development and testing would be needed to deliver a functional reactor system. Fuel and material performance beyond the current state of the art is needed. There is very little national infrastructure available for fast reactor nuclear testing and associated materials development and testing. Surface mission requirements may be different enough to warrant different reactor design approaches and development of a generic multi-purpose reactor requires substantial sacrifice in performance capability for each mission.
Date: February 8, 2006
Creator: Ashcroft, J. & Eshelman, C.
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