Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

Just Sunday I was talking to a friend about

Combined Cycle Farnsworth Driven Nuclear Thermal Propulsion.

Here is Farnsworth with his fusor
Philo T Farnsworth with the Fusor

Essentially, you run a nuclear power plant in the -K region, pushing the neutron level to critical with a Farnsworth neutron generator or an accelerator with Deuterium & Tritium in the gun. The heat from the nuclear engine is used to pump liquid hydrogen to high velocities, and heat it to expansion. The hot hydrogen flows through the nuclear power plant, cooling the reactor, and reaching maximum velocity through heat absorbtion. The external heat engine also powers an electron gun, which is used to improve exhaust characteristics and velocities.

Yeah, I really wanted to work on one, but NASA never funds anything that will actually go into space. They only fund professors to sit around and dream up ever less likely nuclear engines, like the CCFDNTP. Well, the designs have gone around the block, and now some people are apparantly using them for ground work.

First for accelerator-driven nuclear reactor

So what is all the excitement? Well, with an accelerator of Farnsworth running the K up to critical, the reactor can be designed without the ability to go critical, much less super critical. It definitely reduces the possible danger of catastrophic failure. In the event the detectors decide there are too many neutrons, the computer can shut off the accelerator. Since all the speed of those reactions can be nano to micro second, the reactor can be micro-controlled in a way that a “Insert cooling rods” reactor could never be.

Myrrha cutaway (SCK-CEN)

I’m happy that the technology is being developed, I’ll be a lot happier when the atomic rockets light up.



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