- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
Does anyone have anything more on this Westinghouse concept?
Prospects of Nuclear Power for Smaller Combatants
Smaller surface combatants, such as escorts, require a greater
ratio of power to overall tonnage than larger combatants such as aircraft
carriers. Because of this requirement, the current pressurized water
reactors (PWRs) are not economical for combatants below 8,000
tons. However, smaller ships might eventually benefit from the development
of lightweight nuclear powerplants (LWNPPs). This would entail
reducing the size and weight of the propulsion system--the reactor and
the power conversion system.
Figure 7-4 illustrates the relationship between a ship's specific
power (horsepower per ship ton) and the specific weight of its propulsion
system (pounds per horsepower of the system). It shows that
surface combatants require a greater specific power than larger
carriers. Also, conventionally powered ships weighing 8,000 tons have
propulsion systems in the range of 60 pounds per horsepower; existing
nuclear-powered ships have propulsion systems limited to 100 pounds per
horsepower or higher. Thus, an LWNPP would be required in a nuclear
combatant to match the light weight of the propulsion system in a
comparable coiventional ship. Smaller high-speed escorts would need
even lighter nuclear propulsion systems.
Several approaches to attain such ar. LWNPP were examined at a workshop
conducted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in 1975 . It
was suggested during the workshop that a propulsion system having a
specific weight near 50 pounds per horsepower could be constructed.
Westinghouse has proposed a design for a gas-cooled LWNPP .
That design has been advanced as a possible alternative to the LM-2500
gai turbine--the engine being installed in DD-963- and CG-L7-class
escorts. The LM-2500 is also being considered for the DDGX.
However, as the ONR workshop and others have later noted, there are
a number of problems with the LWNPP concept. They include the lack of
designs that would permit maintenance work at sea and fears for the loss