Nuclear airliners?!

robunos

You're Mad, You Are.....
Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
2,174
Reaction score
814
just came across this on 'Times Online'....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5024190.ece

cheers,
Robin.
 

Orionblamblam

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
9,768
Reaction score
5,145
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Nuclear-powered aircraft ... will be transporting millions of passengers around the world later this century,

Ah... no. Unless compact fusion powerplants come about, or some breakthrough occurs with so-far-discredited notions like cold fusion or hafnium isomers, there's basically no chance in hell that a nuclear airliner will fly.
 
A

avatar

Guest
helium 3 is the way to go.provided we find it on the moon and make a fusion reactor that can use it.
 

KJ_Lesnick

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
50
chornedsnorkack,

Kosmos satellites routinely do, by design.

Are they nuclear powered?


avatar,

helium 3 is the way to go.provided we find it on the moon and make a fusion reactor that can use it.

I thought helium 3 was a product during the solar fusion process?


KJ Lesnick
 

chornedsnorkack

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Messages
59
Reaction score
2
KJ_Lesnick said:
chornedsnorkack,

Kosmos satellites routinely do, by design.

Are they nuclear powered?
Yes.

The reactor fuel assembly is 53 kg, 60 cm long, 20 cm diametre, consisting of 37 cylindrical fuel elements with 31,1 kg (beginning of life) of 90 % U235 enrichments.


I thought helium 3 was a product during the solar fusion process?

[/quote]

It is. And it stays in the core of the Sun, eventually fusing in its turn.
 

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
5,872
Reaction score
3,495
latest on Fusionreactor for Aircraft engine

was the Polywell reactor from by Robert Bussard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

test prototype build for US navy

research contract as future replace for fission reactors in Sub and Aircraftcarrier.
Bussard explane that the reactor build small enough to fit in cargoaircraft
 

Just call me Ray

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
674
Reaction score
23
chornedsnorkack said:
KJ_Lesnick said:
Plus if that thing crashes...

Kosmos satellites routinely do, by design.

RORSAT (Radar Ocean Recon SAT) had routinely done it, by design ("COSMOS" was a U.S.-applied designation to anything put into Low Earth Orbit by the Soviets that wasn't otherwise identifiable - though these included the entire RORSAT range they also included a number of anonymous but civilian satellites as well as a number of interplanetary probes and other equipment that failed to escape LEO as well as test equipment, including a test of the intended Soviet LEM).

The RORSAT program was an earlier Cold War program now defunct, with most of the mini-reactors being ejected into a stable high orbit; however, at least two RORSAT sats have returned to Earth with their reactors, including one that crashed into the Sea of Japan after a failed launch and another that failed to achieve LEO and burned up over northern Canada, leaving an extensive radioactive debris field. A third RORSAT nearly failed to eject its reactor when spent, but a backup system managed to launch the reactor into a lower than intended, but evidently still stable high orbit.

If anything, this only highlights the concern, though RTGs (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators) are fairly common for interplanetary probes and possibly some satellites. Rather than a full-blown nuclear reactor, these devices merely convert the natural radioactive emissions of radioisotopes such as Pu-238 or Sr-90 into electrical power. Though these devices do not generate significant electrical output, they have the advantage of having a long "battery life," especially if a radioisotope with a very long half-life is used (hence why Pu-238 and Sr-90 are the most popular RTG fuel sources).

Besides, even a modern "compact" nuclear reactor is going to be huge. The only payload the NB-36 was able to carry was the reactor itself. Never mind the 6 tons of lead shielding it carried just behind the crew compartment, protecting only the crew (the amount of shielding needed for a passenger plane would make said plane more suitable as a submarine)
 

KJ_Lesnick

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
1,046
Reaction score
50
Chornedsnorkack,

From what I remember, in the sun the reaction occurs basically involving two hydrogen nuclei which collide, one becomes a neutron and shoots off a positron and neutrino, in which the positron is often annihilated by an electron. Another proton hits the deuteron (proton neutron pair -- a deuterium nucleus) and produces helium 3 and produces a gamma burst which actually produces the energy for the fusion reaction. Another He3 often collides with the mix which produces regular old Helium4, and two protons.

You are correct though that once the sun exhausts all it's hydrogen it will fall inward until the pressure reaches such a point that the helium fuses into heavier elements which results in the star expanding considerably and becoming a red-giant...


Michael Van,
latest on Fusionreactor for Aircraft engine

was the Polywell reactor from by Robert Bussard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

test prototype build for US navy

research contract as future replace for fission reactors in Sub and Aircraftcarrier.
Bussard explane that the reactor build small enough to fit in cargoaircraft

Is this fusion reactor stable?

Is it configured in such a way that it cannot produce a nuclear explosion (ie is it possible for it's normal power levels to spike high enough to cause something like that to happen)?


Just call me Ray,

That sounds about right...


KJ Lesnick
 

chornedsnorkack

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Messages
59
Reaction score
2
Just call me Ray said:
chornedsnorkack said:
KJ_Lesnick said:
Plus if that thing crashes...

Kosmos satellites routinely do, by design.

If anything, this only highlights the concern, though RTGs (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators) are fairly common for interplanetary probes and possibly some satellites. Rather than a full-blown nuclear reactor, these devices merely convert the natural radioactive emissions of radioisotopes such as Pu-238 or Sr-90 into electrical power. Though these devices do not generate significant electrical output, they have the advantage of having a long "battery life," especially if a radioisotope with a very long half-life is used (hence why Pu-238 and Sr-90 are the most popular RTG fuel sources).
RTG is useless unless the radioisotope has a short half-life. And Pu-238 is nasty stuff. Half-life under 90 years makes it a powerful alpha-ray source - far more dangerous than Pu-239 (half-life 24 000 years) let alone highly enriched U-235 (over 700 millions of years). You cannot scram a RTG! It keeps radiating at the same intensity when the heat is no longer needed, when the isotopes have been scattered to four winds and incorporated in human tissues. Whereas a neutron chain reaction nuclear reactor stops chain reacting when the critical conditions are disrupted and when the contents are scattered, their total activity is very low because of the huge lifetime of U-235...
Just call me Ray said:
Besides, even a modern "compact" nuclear reactor is going to be huge. The only payload the NB-36 was able to carry was the reactor itself.
A RORSAT reactor without shielding weights 130 kg. Not too much to carry on a small general aviation piston plane (when not running, of course!)
Just call me Ray said:
Never mind the 6 tons of lead shielding it carried just behind the crew compartment, protecting only the crew (the amount of shielding needed for a passenger plane would make said plane more suitable as a submarine)

Note that the MTOW of a NB-36 was just 162 t. Airbus 380 or An-225 could carry much bigger payloads.
 
A

avatar

Guest
I thought helium 3 was a product during the solar fusion process?

and it is precisely solar winds over eons that have led to the deposition of helium 3 in moon regolith.

it is one the primary reasons for renewed interest in lunar exploration.

here's a pdf on lunar deposits

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2007/pdf/2175.pdf
 

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
5,872
Reaction score
3,495
KJ Lesnick: Is this fusion reactor stable?

after Bussard claime yes
see the Wiki link for more info
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell
bussard him self on Polywell
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606
 
A

avatar

Guest
since we are talking about Bussard might as well give our friends at american antigravity a look in


http://www.americanantigravity.com/articles/682/1/Dr-Robert-Bussards-Fusion-Breakthrough/Page1.html
 
A

avatar

Guest
RTGs have a very poor output is to weight ratio if you like and a MW class RTG will be massive.

On the other hand small nuclear fission reactors are a pain as well on account of greater neutron loss and the high fuel enrichment levels that are required.

Fusion if and when possible is the way to go.
 

Simon666

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
May 9, 2007
Messages
105
Reaction score
5
avatar said:
On the other hand small nuclear fission reactors are a pain as well on account of greater neutron loss and the high fuel enrichment levels that are required. Fusion if and when possible is the way to go.
Fusion pretty much always produces neutrons, even with the trumped up He3. The "easiest" form of fusion, deuterium-tritium, produces some nice neutrons at 14 MeV.
 

Grey Havoc

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
17,454
Reaction score
7,257
A couple of recent developments:

http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=19227

http://www.dvice.com/2013-2-22/lockheeds-skunk-works-promises-fusion-power-four-years

(Note: there are some typos in the Dvice article.)
 

athpilot

Fly me to the moon...
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
336
Reaction score
228
Hi! Don´t know, if this nuclear powered jet airliner was a real project or fictional. But hazegrayart does mostly renders/videos on real projects (I think).

Mach 6 Nuclear Powered 600 Seat Jetliner​

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
View: https://www.youtube.com/embed/zx1iluQsJdE
" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
2,101
Reaction score
1,539
Hear me out: transatlantic nuclear ekranoplans.
Good point!
Nuclear-powered airplanes will first be profitable on long trans-oceanic, non-stop flights (e.g. 16 hours to Sydney, Australia). They will probably need a few years of cargo-hauling before the general public will be willing to ride as passengers.
I envision large, nuclear-powered cargo carriers that depend upon automated loading and un-loading equipment. This also requires automated, quick-disconnect reactors for scheduled maintenance.
Try to picture a nuclear-powered cargo-carrier hauling a heavy load from Sydney to LAX. It lands at LAX and is unloaded automatically, then flies itself to Mojave (sparsely-populated high desert) for maintenance. The reactor is quickly dropped at the East end of Mojave airport, then the empty airframe is towed to the West end for an inspection, brake-change, etc. Meanwhile the reactor core is automatically shuffled to a heavily-shielded bunker (ala. military ammo dump).
I envision a rear-mounted reactor and engines (ala. Boeing 727, Douglas DC-9, etc.) to keep the reactor as far as possible from the human crew. The reactor core could be quickly dumped out the rear end with a minimum of human effort.
 

stealthflanker

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2010
Messages
1,186
Reaction score
1,263
I envision large, nuclear-powered cargo carriers that depend upon automated loading and un-loading equipment. This also requires automated, quick-disconnect reactors for scheduled maintenance.

I guess this can make STAR power module revisit worthwile. The STAR is basically a liquid metal reactor with integrated steam generator which come as a solid block of package. It's designed for country which want nuclear power plant but cannot make investment in reprocessing infrastructure.

Liquid metal like lead or lead bismuth have advantages of not requiring any pressurization and core can be much smaller.

I wonder tho if gas cooled STAR power module feasible as it might actually support higher temperature which one can use for a nuclear jet engine.
 

dan_inbox

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
1,119
Reaction score
781
Hear me out: transatlantic nuclear ekranoplans.
Actually, ekranoplans are about the only config that would assuage people's fears about a crash.
Fly low and require they alight into the ocean xx miles before reaching shore, then putter on to the ramp...

But maybe transpacific rather than transatlantic: the longer the route the more nuke makes sense.
 

Orionblamblam

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
9,768
Reaction score
5,145
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
But maybe transpacific rather than transatlantic: the longer the route the more nuke makes sense.

Politics is the biggest driver of any hypothetical nuclear aircraft. Not just the politics of nuclear powerplants, but politics of regional conflict. it is not unreasonable to assume that current events could mean that the future is one of whole regions on fire and becoming no-go zones; you'd have to fly around them. A current great circle route from most of Europe to Australia/New Zealand would fly over Russia and the Middle East; it's easy to see how that could become problematic. If Africa becomes similarly troublesome to overfly, then the route gets *really* long... fly south along the length of the Atlantic, hang a left before you get to Antarctica. A normal jetliner would be SOL if it tried to fly this route, but a nuclear WIG could pull it off easily.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
8,694
Reaction score
8,216
Hear me out: transatlantic nuclear ekranoplans.
Good point!
Nuclear-powered airplanes will first be profitable on long trans-oceanic, non-stop flights (e.g. 16 hours to Sydney, Australia). They will probably need a few years of cargo-hauling before the general public will be willing to ride as passengers.
I envision large, nuclear-powered cargo carriers that depend upon automated loading and un-loading equipment. This also requires automated, quick-disconnect reactors for scheduled maintenance.
Try to picture a nuclear-powered cargo-carrier hauling a heavy load from Sydney to LAX. It lands at LAX and is unloaded automatically, then flies itself to Mojave (sparsely-populated high desert) for maintenance. The reactor is quickly dropped at the East end of Mojave airport, then the empty airframe is towed to the West end for an inspection, brake-change, etc. Meanwhile the reactor core is automatically shuffled to a heavily-shielded bunker (ala. military ammo dump).
I envision a rear-mounted reactor and engines (ala. Boeing 727, Douglas DC-9, etc.) to keep the reactor as far as possible from the human crew. The reactor core could be quickly dumped out the rear end with a minimum of human effort.

Convair CAMAL was the closest thing from such vehicle.

But indirect cycle, please. And MSR, after all Alvin Weinberg and his teams at Oak Ridge developed Molten Salt Reactors for such job.
 

Similar threads

Top