According to the NASA SBIR 2020 program solicitation, kilowatt-class fission power generation is an enabling technology for lunar and Mars surface missions that require day and night power for long-duration surface operations, and may be the only viable power option to achieve a sustained human presence. In response to NASA SBIR FY 2020 topic Z1.03, Thermal Management, ThermAvant Technologies, LLC (ThermAvant) proposes to develop a high temperature, large format, high capacity Oscillating Heat Pipe (OHP) embedded radiator panel to significantly improve the size, weight and power density of future kilowatt class Fission Power Systems (FPS). This proposal aims to develop thin profile radiator panels, e.g. greater than 1m2 scale x 2-3mm thick, used to reject heat from the waste heat (cold) side of the reactor system. During the six-month Phase I effort, the team proposes to design and empirically demonstrate high temperature prototype radiator panels.
NASA is considering the use of kilowatt class Fission Power Systems for surface missions to the moon and Mars. This directly aligns with the Space Technology Mission Directorate roadmap for space power and energy storage. Prior work in fission power systems had focused on a 1kWe ground demonstration, however, NASA desires to scale-up the system and components for a flight demo mission to the lunar surface, so component technologies that support a 10kWe-class fission power system are sought after to address many remaining technical challenges.
Large-format, high capacity radiators will have applications in terrestrial vehicles with electrical loads, and in large industrial vehicles where he proposed passive solution may be able replace actively pumped single-phase radiators with air cooled systems. These panels may be a viable solution for acquiring heat and rejecting to the heat sink (air, space, water, etc.).