Fabrication and Testing of Thermionic Heat Pipe Modules for Space Nuclear Power Systems 929075

Thermacore, Inc. along with the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) is developing a Thermionic Heat Pipe Module (THPM) for use with small, Thermionic Space Nuclear Power Systems. The THPM concept is a core length, cylindrical thermionic diode with a near-isothermal heat pipe emitter sleeve coupled to reactor fuel by radiation, and a heat pipe collector which also forms the waste heat radiator. The design allows for independent, non-nuclear development and testing of the THPM hardware for later integration into the nuclear reactor.
A hardware development program is currently underway to demonstrate key feasibility components and to fabricate and test prototype THPMs for application to the Small Externally-Fueled Heat Pipe Thermionic Reactor (SEHPTR) concept. This paper describes the scope and status of the THPM development program at Thermacore. Design, fabrication and test results to date of the first of several half-length THPM design iterations are presented, and future activities intended to incrementally develop the concept are discussed.


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