Research Papers

Power Management and Distribution System for a Mars Surface Fission Power Reactor

[+] Author and Article Information
Yayu M. Hew

Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering,
Stanford University,
Stanford, CA 94305
e-mail: ymhew@stanford.edu

Kevin J. Schillo

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
University of Alabama in Huntsville,
Huntsville, AL 35899
e-mail: kjs0011@uah.edu

Akansha Kumar

Center for Space Nuclear Research,
Idaho National Laboratory,
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
e-mail: akansha.tamu@gmail.com

Kurt E. Harris

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
Utah State University,
Logan, UT 84322
e-mail: kuharris@gmail.com

Steven D. Howe

Center for Space Nuclear Research,
Idaho National Laboratory,
Idaho Falls, ID 83401;
Talos Power LLC,
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
e-mail: showe@hbartech.com

1Present address: Currently affiliated with Talos Power LLC.

Manuscript received October 25, 2017; final manuscript received April 20, 2018; published online September 10, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Yanping Huang.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 4(4), 041019 (Sep 10, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: NERS-17-1189; doi: 10.1115/1.4040370 History: Received October 25, 2017; Revised April 20, 2018

This paper presents a power management and distribution system (PMAD) for a growing Martian colony. The colony is designed for a 15-year operation lifetime, and will accommodate a population that grows from 6 to 126 crewmembers. To provide sufficient power, a nuclear fission surface power (FSP) system is proposed with a total capacity of 1 MWel. The system consists of three 333 kWel fission reactors. Direct current (DC) transmission with 2000 voltage direct current (VDC) is found to provide the best power density and transmission efficiency for the given configuration. The grounding system consists of grounding rods, grounding grids, and a soil-enhancement plan. A regenerative fuel cell using a propellant tank recycled from the lander was found to have the best energy density and scalability among all the options investigated. The thermal energy reservoir, while having the worst storage efficiency, can be constructed through in situ resource utilization (ISRU), and is a promising long-term option. A daily load following a 12-h cycle can be achieved, and the power variation will be less than 10% during normal operation. Several main load-following scenarios are studied and accommodated, including an extended dust storm, nighttime, daytime, and transient peak power operation. A contingency power operation budget is also considered in the event that all of the reactors fail. The system has a power distribution efficiency of 85%, a storage efficiency of 50%, and a total mass of 13 Mt.

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Fig. 3

Power budget projections for different times of Martian day and mission phases

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Fig. 2

Targeted mars human colony population projection

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Fig. 1

Radial overview of reactor core [4] (Reproduced with permission from Elsevier © 2016)

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Fig. 4

Geological model of Martian outflow channel emerging from chaotic terrain [11]

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Fig. 5

Grounding design for the PMAD system

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Fig. 6

Regenerative fuel cell

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Fig. 9

Proposed design operation timeline

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Fig. 10

Layout of Mars colony

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Fig. 7

Thermal energy storage system

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Fig. 8

Load following block diagram



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