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Lead-cooled nuclear reactors for manned missions to Mars

Time: Wed 2019-03-06 15.15 - 16.00

Location: Room FA32, AlbaNova, Roslagstullsbacken 21

Participating: Sara Bortot

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The compactness of lead-cooled nuclear reactors makes them ideal for space propulsion applications. Today, the reactor concepts considered as a heat source for thermal rockets or electrically driven propulsion have a mass exceeding several tons per MW, including the tungsten shield necessary for radiation protection of the crew. Perhaps counter-intuitive, the application of liquid lead, which functions as coolant and gamma shield in the same time, permits to decrease the specific mass of the reactor system. Hence, the operation of compact, low specific mass lead-cooled reactors for space propulsion may enable use of plasma thrust engines powered with more than 50 MWe that are required for radically reducing transit times to Mars. Furthermore, the introduction of an iso-breeding, compact core fuelled with neptunium nitride will be the enabling factor for multi-return trips and/or deep space exploration.

Coffee and cake will be available for the first 30 attendees at 15:00, warmly welcome!