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Why stick with solid fuels

  1. Feb 11, 2011 #1
    I know there companies modifying shape size and working fluids and that the NRC really stifles innovation in this industry. Why isn't more research being done liquid fuels

    We are studying PLant design now and I really like the idea of a liquid metal fuel mixture in the hot leg and then one or two cold legs to drive the turbine. With the liquid mixture you could actively sift out your xenon and whatever and that way you can achieve much higher burnups.

    Outside of a proliferation issue of syphoning off fissle urainium 235 why is this avenue not being explored much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2011 #2
    Cost? Safety? Weight?

    I don't believe the space shuttle was 100% solid fuel anyway.

    I'm no rocket science, but where's the "turbine" on a rocket?
  4. Feb 12, 2011 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Generally, solid fuel is preferred in order to retain fission products in a readily removable form, which helps keep fission products from migrating to the environment. Liquid nuclear fueled plants would be impractical for commercial operation. The processing plant (to remove the fission products) represents a significant capital cost and potential liability.

    Separating Xe (and Kr), and the elements such as Te, I, Cs, Ba and Se, Br, Rb, Sr, then requires some storage system to allow them to decay.

    There is also the matter of core homogeneity.

    It's not clear that higher burnup can be necessarily achieved.

    I don't believe that the NRC stifles innovation. The NRC sets standards for safey and protection. Those are necessary contraints! Within those constaints, there is plenty of room for innovation. Developers of nuclear technology are more constrained by the cost of designing and proving technology, which is why the government(s) has played the major role in financially supporting the development of nuclear technology.
  5. Feb 12, 2011 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Liquid rockets use turbo pumps, and rocket motors have 'preburners' to provide power to turbines, or bleed off lines to divert some of the exhaust to turbines.


    See - SSME Powerhead.

    Interesting read - http://www.ssdl.gatech.edu/papers/phdTheses/StGermainB-Thesis.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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