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Passive Technology to Improve Criticality Control of NTP Reactors, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The objective of this SBIR is to investigate passive technology that will enable criticality control of a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) reactor during a burn with little to no mechanical movement of the circumferential control drums. Specifically, this work will study passive reactor design features that mitigate and counteract the effects of 135Xe, the dominant fission product contributing to reactivity transients in a moderated NTP reactor. Examples of passive reactor design features to be studied include tuning temperature reactivity feedback mechanisms, employing burnable poisons, and suppressing the build-up of 135Xe. By minimizing or eliminating the need for mechanical movement of the circumferential control drums during a NTP burn, the passive technology studied in this SBIR will greatly simplify controlling a NTP reactor and increase the overall performance of the NTP system. More »

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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