NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X2.02-7802
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nuclear Power Generation
PROPOSAL TITLE: Wide Range Neutron Detector

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
PAYLOAD SYSTEMS INC.
247 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142-0000
(617)868-8086

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Javier deLuis
deluis@payload.com
247 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142-1129
(617)868-8086

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Current design concepts of nuclear reactors for space applications are well advanced in core configurations and architectural design. There is a need to determine how such systems will be monitored and instrumented. We propose to adapt a Wide Range Neutron Detector (WRND) system currently in use at nuclear research facilities for its operation in the space environment. This new system can then be utilized to monitor and control a space-based nuclear power reactor. The system is capable of measuring neutron fluxes in the whole reactor's operation range, from a neutron flux of 10E0 n/cm2/sec up to a flux of more than 10E10 n/cm2/sec. In this way, a single instrument chain can be used instead of having different instrumentation for each of the operation ranges of the reactor (start-up, ramping-up, and nominal power) This is a clear advantage for space applications where mass, size, and power consumption constraints are of premium importance. A WRND would allow for a reduction in the complexity of space-based nuclear instrumentation and control systems. A ground version of the proposed system is presently being installed in a research reactor in Australia.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
NASA has identified nuclear reactors as building blocks of future lunar and Mars robotic and manned missions. Although most of the nuclear powered applications are in the 10 or 15 timeframe ?when missions to Moon and Mars are likely to be operational- the design of space-based reactors is a process that must start early. Sensors such as WRMD are key enabling technologies for any space-based nuclear power system.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Ground versions of the WRND concept exist and are being used in research reactors. Therefore, the market is established and defined. The proposed modifications and improvements to the WRND concept for space applications would translate into improved systems here on Earth that are smaller, more reliable, and potentially lower cost, than those presently deployed. In addition, WRMD could be used in existing ground-based reactors as they are refitted and updated as a means of improving safety and performance.