Critical neutron heating in the control drums of a dual purpose thermionic space reactor for power and propulsion

Sahin S., SÖZEN A.

ANNALS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY, vol.26, no.2, pp.91-110, 1999 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/s0306-4549(98)00039-5
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.91-110
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


The critical neutron heating in the reflector control drums is investigated for a fast incore thermionic space craft reactor for power and nuclear propulsion. The reactor is fueled with uranium carbide (UC) and controlled with the help of rotating B4C drums imbedded into the beryllium reflector. While the neutron heating in the drums would not require a cooling mechanism in the power phase, the heat generation during the thrust phase obliges cooling for a nuclear thermal thrust around F = 5000 N by a specific impulse of 670 s(-1) at an hydrogen exit temperature around 1900 degrees K. With a beryllium reflector without extra cooling measures, thermal thrust must be kept F < 2500 N to relieve the thermal load in the reflector. On the other hand, a reflector made of BeO may withstand a thermal load for a nuclear thermal thrust of F = 5000 N. The neutronic analysis has been conducted in S-16-P-3 and S-8-P-3 approximation with the help of one- and two-dimensional neutron transport codes ANISN and DORT, respectively. A reactor control with boronated reflector drums (drum diameter = 14 cm) at the outer periphery of the radial reflector of 16 cm thickness would make possible reactivity changes of Delta k(eff) = 13.55%-amply sufficient for a fast reactor-without a significant distortion of the fission power profile during all phases of the space mission. Calculations are conducted for a reactor with a core radius of 22 cm and core height of 35 cm leading to power levels around 50 kW(el). (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.