Development of High Fidelity, Fuel-Like Thermal Simulators for Non-Nuclear Testing

Bragg-Sitton, Shannon M.; Dickens, Ricky; Dixon, David; Kapernick, Richard; Adams, Mike; Davis, Joe
January 2007
AIP Conference Proceedings;2007, Vol. 880 Issue 1, p605
Conference Proceeding
Non-nuclear testing can be a valuable tool in the development of a space nuclear power or propulsion system. In a non-nuclear test bed, electric heaters are used to simulate the heat from nuclear fuel. Work at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center seeks to develop high fidelity thermal simulators that not only match the static power profile that would be observed in an operating, fueled nuclear reactor, but also match the dynamic fuel pin performance during feasible transients. Comparison between the fuel pins and thermal simulators is made at the outer fuel clad surface, which corresponds to the outer sheath surface in the thermal simulator. The thermal simulators that are currently being developed are designed to meet the geometric and power requirements of a proposed surface power reactor design, accommodate testing of various axial power profiles, and incorporate imbedded instrumentation. Static and dynamic fuel pin performances for a proposed reactor design have been determined using SINDA/FLUINT thermal analysis software, and initial comparison has been made between the expected nuclear performance and the performance of conceptual thermal simulator designs. Through a series of iterative analysis, a conceptual high fidelity design will be developed, followed by engineering design, fabrication, and testing to validate the overall design process. Although the resulting thermal simulator will be designed for a specific reactor concept, establishing this rigorous design process will assist in streamlining the thermal simulator development for other reactor concepts. This paper presents the current status of high fidelity thermal simulator design relative to a SNAP derivative reactor design that could be applied for Lunar surface power. © 2007 American Institute of Physics


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