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Nuclear light bulbThe nuclear light bulb engine is a closed cycle concept. The nuclear light bulb concept provides containment by keeping the nuclear fuel fluid mechanically suspended in a cylindrical geometry. Thermal heat passes through an internally cooled, fused-silica, transparent wall and heats hydrogen propellant. The seeded hydrogen propellant absorbs radiant energy and is expanded through a nozzle. Internal moderation was used in the configuration which resulted in a reduced critical density requirement. This result was supported by criticality experiments. A reference engine was designed that had seven cells and was sized to fit in what was then predicted to be the shuttle bay mass and volume limitations. There were studies done of nozzle throat cooling schemes to remove the radiant heat. Elements of the nuclear light bulb program included closed loop critical assembly tests done at Los Alamos with UF6 confined by argon buffer gas. It was shown that the fuel region could be seeded with constituents that would block UV radiation from the uranium plasma. A combination of calculations and experiments showed that internal moderation produced a critical mass reduction. Other aspects of the research are presented.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Latham, Tom
(United Technologies Research Center East Hartford, CT, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Lewis Research Center, Nuclear Thermal Propulsion: A Joint NASA(DOE)DOD Workshop
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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