On the Question of “Decisive Advantages” of Thermionic Conversion for Space Power Systems
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The introduction of nuclear power in space at a new technological level will make it possible to create radically new space facilities and bring space activities to a qualitatively new level. One of the key problems in the development of space nuclear reactor power systems is choosing the system for conversion of the reactor thermal power to electricity. At present, thermionic and Brayton cycle gas turbine converters are considered for these power systems. The article presents the results of comparing these types of converters in one of the parameters that are important for space engineering: the required areas of the cooler-radiator for the release of the thermal power unused in the heat power converter. It has been shown that the thermionic converters have no significant advantages at the practically achievable efficiencies of conversion and thermal release temperatures as compared to the Brayton cycle converters with regard to the radiator area. These converters should be compared in terms of all parameters intrinsic to the space nuclear power systems.
Keywordsspace reactor nuclear power system thermionic converter Brayton cycle gas turbine converter total power (thermal) useful power (electric) thermal release power area of radiator emitting surfaces cooler-radiator
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