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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Long Life Bearings for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Long Life Bearings for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion, Phase I
Florida Turbine Technologies, Inc. will investigate novel hybrid bearing concepts to provide near infinite life, providing a significant leap forward in bearing technology for future high-speed long life rocket engine turbopumps. Development of long life bearing technology for turbomachinery for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion engine turbopumps will be critical for mission success. For a typical Mars mission, the turbopump may be required to operate for 100 minutes or longer. FTT's hybrid bearing approach addresses a key concern associated with the slow transient condition of the nuclear reactor, which requires pump operation while the reactor heats up and cools down. During this period, the pumps will be required to operate at low speed for a significant period. In addition to solving the low-speed transient condition of the main pumps, the NTP boost pump will be required to operate with significant damping with the capability of ingesting and pumping up to 55% vapor and will require an innovative damped bearing solution to ensure long life of the rotor and bearing assembly. More »

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