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Investigation and Feasibility Assessment of TOPAZ-2 Derivations for Space Power ApplicationsThe ability to provide continuous power at significant levels is of utmost importance for many space missions, from simple satellite operations to manned Mars missions. One of the main problems faced in delivering solar or chemical space power in the tens of kW range, is the increasingly massive nature of the power source and the costs associated with its launch, operation and maintenance. A national program had been initiated to study the feasibility of using certain advanced technologies in developing an efficient lightweight space power source. The starting point for these studies has been the Russian TOPAZ-2 space reactor system, with the ultimate goal to aid in the development of a TOPAZ-2 derivative which will be ready for flight by the year 2000. The main objective of this project has been to perform feasibility assessment and trade studies which would allow the development of an advanced space nuclear power system based on the in-core thermionic fuel element technology currently used in the Russian TOPAZ-2 reactor. Two of the important considerations in developing the concept are: (1) compliance of the current TOPAZ-2 and of any advanced designs with U.S. nuclear safety expectations, and (2) compliance of the design with the seven years lifetime requirement. The project was composed of two major phases. The initial phase of the project has concentrated on understanding the TOPAZ-2 thermionic reactor in sufficient detail to allow several follow-on tasks. The primary interest during this first phase has been given on identifying the potential of the TOPAZ-2 design for further improvements. The second phase of the project has focused on the feasibility of a TOPAZ-2 system capable of delivering 30-50 kWe. Towards the elimination of single-point failures in the load voltage regulation system an active voltage regulator has been designed to be used in conjunction with the available shunt load voltage regulator. The possible use of a dual-loop, model-based adaptive control system for load-following in the TOPAZ-2 has also been investigated. The objective of this fault-tolerant, autonomous control system is to deliver the demanded electric power at the desired voltage level, by appropriately manipulating the neutron power through the control drums. As a result, sufficient thermal power is produced to meet the required demand in the presence of dynamically changing system operating conditions and potential sensor failures. The designed controller is proposed for use in combination with the currently available shunt regulators, or as a back-up controller when other means of power system control, including some of the sensors, fail.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Parlos, Alexander G.
(Texas A&M Univ. College Station, TX United States)
Peddicord, Kenneth L.
(Texas A&M Univ. College Station, TX United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1998
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:195423
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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