Inherently Safe and Long-Life Fission Power System for Lunar Outposts

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T. M. Schriener et al. (2013), JBIS, 66, pp.388-394

Refcode: 2013.66.388
Keywords: Lunar fission surface power, post-operation storage, passive operation and decay-heat removal, radioactivity source term, sectored reactor design

Abstract:
Power requirements for future lunar outposts, of 10's to 100's kWe, can be fulfilled using nuclear reactor power systems. In addition to the long life and operation reliability, safety is paramount in all phases, including fabrication and assembly, launch, emplacement below grade on the lunar surface, operation, post-operation decay heat removal and long-term storage and eventual retrieval. This paper introduces the Solid Core-Sectored Compact Reactor (SC-SCoRe) and power system with static components and no single point failures. They ensure reliable continuous operation for ~21 years and fulfill the safety requirements. The SC-SCoRe nominally generates 1.0 MWth at liquid NaK-56 coolant inlet and exit temperatures of 850 K and 900 K and the power system provides 38 kWe at high DC voltage using SiGe thermoelectric (TE) conversion assemblies. In case of a loss of coolant or cooling in a reactor core sector, the power system continues to operate; generating ~4 kWe to the outpost for emergency life support needs. The post-operation storage of the reactor below grade on the lunar surface is a safe and practical choice. The total radioactivity in the reactor drops from ~1 million Ci, immediately at shutdown, to below 164 Ci after 300 years of storage. At such time, the reactor is retrieved safely with no contamination or environmental concerns.

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