Tech Tuesdays: NASA Kilo Power Reactor

NASA is back at it again!

Two of my favorite U.S. Organizations (NASA and the US DOE) have partnered together to create the Kilopower Reactor. This unique reactor converts heat from a uranium core into electricity by simply passing it through sodium pipes. The reactor is small, lightweight and can produce enough electrical power to run several households over a period of 10 years. In other words, sustainable energy that can be used productively to perform multiple “super cool science projects.”

“Safe, efficient and plentiful energy will be the key to future robotic and human exploration,” said NASA- STMD Acting Associate Administrator, Jim Reuter. According to tests and evaluations, this reactor can improve lunar and Mars missions, by supplying sustainable energy to astronauts on their missions.

As stated before, the Kilopower Reactor uses a paper-towel-sized, solid, cast uranium-235 reactor core. Sodium heat pipes transfer reactor heat to heavy-duty Stirling engines which convert the heat into electricity. Quite similar to most power generation plants we know of.

This all sounds, quite too good to be true. I must say, I am not too familiar with Nuclear Energy so I ask you this, what could be the potential hazards of building a small Nuclear Power Plant on the moon? Chief Reactor Designer, David Poston claims that the prototype will kill two birds with one stone:

  • Prove that fission power is an effective method for producing electricity
  • Showing that the system is both stable and safe.

Furthermore, the Kilopower team claims that since there would be issues with solar power on the moon (since lunar nights are equivalent to 14 days on Earth), this Nuclear System poses a better alternative for the intended purpose.

Are we willing to risk harming the celestial body responsible for our Oceans tides and an essential part of our Earth-Moon gravitational system for an experimental source of energy for space exploration?

As an alternative energy enthusiast, I support efficient alternatives, but certainly not harmful ones. I really do love NASA and the DOE and support what they do. I hope this Kilopower Project can bring out a positive impact on interstellar travel..

 

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Thanks for reading

BKT

 

(As a believer of accountability and prose, all graphics and content have been properly sourced in the above passage.)

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