Space Molten Salt Reactor Concept for Nuclear Electric Propulsion and Surface Power

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M. Eades; J. Flanders; N. McMurray; R. Denning; X. Sun; W. Windl; T. Blue (2011), JBIS, 64, 186-193

Refcode: 2011.64.186
Keywords: Nuclear Electric Propulsion, Surface Power, Molten Salt, Liquid Fuel

Students at The Ohio State University working under the NASA Steckler Grant sought to investigate how molten salt reactors with fissile material dissolved in a liquid fuel medium can be applied to space applications. Molten salt reactors of this kind, built for non-space applications, have demonstrated high power densities, high temperature operation without pressurization, high fuel burn up and other characteristics that are ideal for space fission systems. However, little research has been published on the application of molten salt reactor technology to space fission systems. This paper presents a conceptual design of the Space Molten Salt Reactor (SMSR), which utilizes molten salt reactor technology for Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) and surface power at the 100 kWe to 15 MWe level. Central to the SMSR design is a liquid mixture of LiF, BeF2 and highly enriched U235F4 that acts as both fuel and core coolant. In brief, some of the positive characteristics of the SMSR are compact size, simplified core design, high fuel burn up percentages, proliferation resistant features, passive safety mechanisms, a considerable body of previous research, and the possibility for flexible mission architecture.

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