EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF A TUBULAR FUEL ELEMENT IN THE CENTRIFUGAL NUCLEAR THERMAL ROCKET
In order to fulfill humanity's aspirations for deep space exploration, Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engines have emerged as a crucial technology, surpassing the limitations of modern chemical engines. The capability of achieving a specific impulse (Isp) of at least 900 seconds is essential, especially for ambitious missions like human-crewed expeditions to Mars. High-Performance Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (HP-NTP) engines, capable of generating an Isp between 1300 - 1800 seconds, enable expeditions of less than 15 months to Mars.
This study focuses on the analysis of the Centrifugal Fuel Element (CFE) within the Centrifugal Nuclear Thermal Rocket (CNTR) concept. The CNTR utilizes liquid uranium fuel, heated to approximately 5000K, to heat a propellant while rotating at speeds of 5000-7000 RPM. The centrifugal force causes the uranium to adhere to the wall, creating a void region for propellant flow, which is then heated and produces the necessary thrust. This study explicitly aims to demonstrate the concept of liquid flow in a rotating fuel tube, considering the practical challenges associated with using liquid uranium as the fuel material. This thesis addresses the development of HP-NTP engines within the CNTR framework, specifically focusing on simulating centrifugal fuel elements. By investigating the behavior of liquids in rotating fuel tubes and utilizing water as a substitute for uranium, the study demonstrates the feasibility and validity of the CNTR concept.