Potassium Rankine Cycle Power Conversion Systems for Lunar-Mars Surface Power 929340
The potassium Rankine cycle has good potential for application to nuclear power systems for surface power on the moon and Mars. A substantial effort on the development of the power conversion system was carried out in the 1960's which demonstrated successful operation of components made of stainless steel at moderate temperatures. This technology could be applied in the near term to produce a 360 kW(e) power system by coupling a stainless steel power conversion system to the SP-100 reactor.
Improved performance could be realized in later systems by utilizing niobium or tantalum refractory metal alloys in the reactor and power conversion system. The design characteristics and estimated mass of power systems for each of three technology levels are presented in the paper.