This study investigated the development of a system concept for space power generation and nuclear electric propulsion based on a fissioning plasma core reactor (FPCR) with magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) power conversion system, coupled to a magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster. The FPCR is a liquid-vapor core reactor concept operating with metallic uranium or uranium tetrafluoride vapor as the fissioning fuel and alkali metals or their fluorides as working fluid in a closed Rankine cycle with MHD energy conversion. Candidate working fluids include K, Li, Na, KF, LiF, NaF, etc. The system features core outlet temperatures of 3000 to 4000 K at pressures of about 1 to 10 MPa, MHD temperatures of 2000 to 3000 K, and radiator temperatures of 1200 to 2000 K. This combination of parameters offers the potential for low total system specific mass in the range of 0.4 to 0.6 kg/kWe. The MHD output could be coupled with minimal power conditioning to the variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket (VASIMR), MPD thrusters or other types of thruster for producing thrust at very high specific impulse ( to 10,000 s).
Multimegawatt nuclear electric propulsion with gaseous and vapor core reactors with MHD
Travis Knight, Samim Anghaie, Blair Smith, Michael Houts; Multimegawatt nuclear electric propulsion with gaseous and vapor core reactors with MHD. AIP Conf. Proc. 2 February 2001; 552 (1): 923–930. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.1358029
Download citation file: