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Nuclear light bulb propellant heating simulation using a tungsten/argon aerosol and radiation from a dc arc surrounded by a segmented mirror cavityExperiments were conducted to simulate radiant heating of the propellant stream of a nuclear light bulb engine to obtain high bulk exit temperatures in the flowing simulated propellant stream by absorption of large fractions of the incident thermal radiation. A high-power, vortex-stabilized dc arc within an uncooled fused silica tube was used as the radiant energy source. It was surrounded by a mirror system to increase the radiation incident on the simulated propellant. The 12.7-cm-long by 2.3-cm-wide, diverging-duct test section had a transparent front wall and a reflecting rear wall. The central stream of seeded gas, a tungsten-particle/argon aerosol, had unseeded argon buffer layers on both sides to prevent coating of the duct walls. Arc operating times were approximately 0.5 sec with power levels up to 780 kW. Bulk exit temperatures were measured using a calorimeter downstream of the duct. The maximum simulated propellant bulk exit temperature obtained was 4515 K, compared with 3860 K in previous tests, 3300 to 3700 K expected in in-reactor tests in the Nuclear Furnace, and 6660 K in the reference nuclear light bulb engine. The maximum temperature in these tests was limited primarily by the amount of radiation incident on the test section (determined by the arc operating characteristics and the effectiveness of the mirror cavity).
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Klein, J. F.
(United Aircraft Corp. East Hartford, CT, United States)
Date Acquired
August 7, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 1972
Subject Category
Nuclear Engineering
Report/Patent Number
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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