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Proceedings Paper

Gigawatt, Closed Cycle, Vapor Core-Mhd Space Power System Conceptual Design Study
Author(s): Joseph R. Wetch; Hyop S. Rhee; J.Kent Koester; Julius Goodman; Issac Maya
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Paper Abstract

A conceptual design study for a closed cycle gigawatt electric space power system has been conducted. The closed cycle static operation reduces power system interaction effects upon the space craft. This system utilizes a very high temperature (5500 K) plasma core reactor and a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) power conversion subsystem to provide a power density of about 8 kWe/kg (0.13 kg/kWe) for several kilo-seconds. Uranium vapor is the fuel. Candidate working fluids are metal vapors such as lithium or calcium. The system is based on a Rankine cycle to minimize the electromagnetic pumping power requirement. The fission fragment induced nonequilibrium ionization in the plasma in the MHD power duct provides the plasma electric conductivity for gigawatt power generation. Waste heat is rejected utilizing lithium heat pipes at temperatures just below 2000 K, thus minimizing the radiator area requirement. Key technology issues are identified, including the containment of the 5500 K 'sun-liken plasma at 4 to 0 MPa In a reflector moderated, gas/vapor filled cavity core reactor. A promising scheme to protect the refractory metal reactor inner wall is presented, together with a heating load analysis in the wall. This scheme utilizes an ablating film of liquid lithium/calcium that evaporates into the cavity core to become the working fluid of the cycle.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 April 1988
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 0871, Space Structures, Power, and Power Conditioning, (6 April 1988); doi: 10.1117/12.943623
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph R. Wetch, Space Power Incorporated (United States)
Hyop S. Rhee, Space Power Incorporated (United States)
J.Kent Koester, Space Power Incorporated (United States)
Julius Goodman, California State University (United States)
Issac Maya, California State University (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0871:
Space Structures, Power, and Power Conditioning
Raymond F. Askew, Editor(s)

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