Tucker1
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Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:01 pm

Would it be feasible to make a nuclear powered airliner sometime? If not, i'm guessing the military has already thought of it.
 
DDR
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:07 pm

Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:08 pm

The USAF tried it in the 50s with the B-36, too many obstacles to overcome.
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:16 pm

I knew it was dangerous, could end up horrible, just came to mind. Thanks jetblueguy22 for the info I was looking for!
 
FlyHossD
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:23 pm

Wikipedia has a decent summary:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36H
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Aesma
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:25 pm

Nuclear power for a vehicle is interesting because it allows almost unlimited range. A commercial airliner needs 20000Km range at most, so unlimited range doesn't really fill any need. Nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines, on the other hand, do need to sail for months on end, so there it makes sense. The other problem, aside from the risks, being the necessary shielding, cooling, etc., that means a nuclear engine is heavy. Not a big problem for a ship, but for an aircraft, that's another story.

But yes it has been flight tested. Shielding was minimal and the thing was sending nuclear waste in the atmosphere, not really possible to do that today.
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Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:34 pm

Maybe a possibility in the future with new technology though? Just another idea thrown out there. Keep all options alive, never stop imagining.
 
Elementalism
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:36 pm

Tucker1 wrote:
Would it be feasible to make a nuclear powered airliner sometime? If not, i'm guessing the military has already thought of it.


Already tried in the 1950s. The military deemed it not worthy and moved on.
 
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LockheedBBD
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:37 pm

Not until nuclear fusion technology (the safest/harmless nuclear technology available) in a small and light package becomes feasible. Which is to say, maybe 100-200 years from now, if ever. They are still trying to nail down the basics of nuclear fusion.


The nuclear technology used today is "nuclear fission".
Last edited by LockheedBBD on Wed May 02, 2018 11:42 pm, edited 4 times in total.
 
reltney
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:39 pm

DDR wrote:
Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.



True, a nuclear powered aircraft hitting the ground would be a hand full. Not making fun of you but how hypocritical some are. FYI there are over 100 nuclear powerplants in America. Europe has more nuclear power plants per populous than most nations. If you feel that strongly about not using nuclear power, turn off all your electrical uses.....phone, computer, house items. Start digging that coal.


It's a mitigated low risk power to supply our needs. If one of these plains were to hit the ground, it doesn't look like a nuke bomb went off. Nuclear power is above us in space as we type....... Been there since the 60s. Nuclear Powerplants all over the world. Some use it irresponsibly and must be monitored yet most use it and it is wonderful. Imagine the power to all the 3rd world countries....

US and Russia did its tests with flying nuclear reactors but none flew under nuclear power.

Off the soap box.... Flamers flame away.....
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Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:40 pm

LockheedBBD wrote:
Not until nuclear fusion technology (the safest/harmless nuclear technology available) in a small and light package becomes feasible. Which is to say, maybe 100-200 years from now, if ever.

Agreed
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:48 pm

reltney wrote:
DDR wrote:
Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.



True, a nuclear powered aircraft hitting the ground would be a hand full. Not making fun of you but how hypocritical some are. FYI there are over 100 nuclear powerplants in America. Europe has more nuclear power plants per populous than most nations. If you feel that strongly about not using nuclear power, turn off all your electrical uses.....phone, computer, house items. Start digging that coal.


It's a mitigated low risk power to supply our needs. If one of these plains were to hit the ground, it doesn't look like a nuke bomb went off. Nuclear power is above us in space as we type....... Been there since the 60s. Nuclear Powerplants all over the world. Some use it irresponsibly and must be monitored yet most use it and it is wonderful. Imagine the power to all the 3rd world countries....

US and Russia did its tests with flying nuclear reactors but none flew under nuclear power.

Off the soap box.... Flamers flame away.....

I don't agree it's a good idea either, just wondering if there might some history behind it
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:54 pm

reltney wrote:
DDR wrote:
Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.



True, a nuclear powered aircraft hitting the ground would be a hand full. Not making fun of you but how hypocritical some are. FYI there are over 100 nuclear powerplants in America. Europe has more nuclear power plants per populous than most nations. If you feel that strongly about not using nuclear power, turn off all your electrical uses.....phone, computer, house items. Start digging that coal.


It's a mitigated low risk power to supply our needs. If one of these plains were to hit the ground, it doesn't look like a nuke bomb went off. Nuclear power is above us in space as we type....... Been there since the 60s. Nuclear Powerplants all over the world. Some use it irresponsibly and must be monitored yet most use it and it is wonderful. Imagine the power to all the 3rd world countries....

US and Russia did its tests with flying nuclear reactors but none flew under nuclear power.

Off the soap box.... Flamers flame away.....

I only was asking a question, not being a hypocrite, just something that came to mind. I understand that it's not realistic. But thanks anyway.
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Wed May 02, 2018 11:59 pm

FlyHossD wrote:
Wikipedia has a decent summary:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36H

Thanks!
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:07 am

Best regards from an aviation enthusiast. Thanks for the ones that were helpfull and not critical of my question!
 
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Revelation
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:08 am

I don't often offer videos in response to questions, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85NgTNM0gAI is well worth watching if you're interested in this topic.

It goes through US and USSR efforts in the nuclear powered aircraft space and has interviews with some of the principals.
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zakuivcustom
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:11 am

Never say never, there are definitely researches into the area even now:
https://sploid.gizmodo.com/lockheed-mar ... 1646578094

This wiki article gives a better summary imo.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear ... d_aircraft
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gtae07
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:14 am

LockheedBBD wrote:
Not until nuclear fusion technology (the safest/harmless nuclear technology available) in a small and light package becomes feasible. Which is to say, maybe 100-200 years from now, if ever. They are still trying to nail down the basics of nuclear fusion.


100-200 years for fusion is a little pessimistic. "We" have achieved sustained fusion in the lab. The trick comes in sustaining it long term, and then making it a net energy producer (right now it takes more energy to light it off and keep it going than can be extracted).

I'd wager we could have useful fusion in 20 years, if a large country or group of countries made it a moon-shot level priority. Unfortunately, the word "nuclear" gets tossed about and everyone wets their pants...
 
c933103
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:15 am

Aircraft, yes, but airliner, no.

Also, other than cold war era research, recently it was reported that Russia claims they have developed a new missile that uses nuclear power without shielding and thus cab endlessly cruise in atmosphere and change its path to avoid detection before actually hitting something
When no other countries around the world is going to militarily stop China and its subordinate fom abusing its citizens within its national boundary, it is unreasonable to expect those abuse can be countered with purely peaceful means.
 
Tucker1
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:17 am

Thanks guys! I'll definitely check them out!
 
Runway28L
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 1:17 am

The USAF studied the idea of a nuclear-powered aircraft during the development of the XB-70 Valkyrie. It of course never became reality due to the obsurd costs that this would've brought.

http://www.google.com/amp/s/jalopnik.co ... rcraft/amp
 
prebennorholm
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 1:21 am

jetblueguy22 wrote:
The USAF tried it in the 50s with the B-36, too many obstacles to overcome.

The USSR had a similar program with one test aircraft Tupolev Tu-95LAL, but came no further than the Americans with the Convair NB-36H.

Both were tested with reactors operating, mounted in the bomb bays, to test shielding and other radiation effects.

If engines had been developed, then the prototypes would have been named Tu-119 based on the Tu-95, and X-6 based on Convair B-36, or maybe Convair B-60, a cancelled, updated B-36, which lost against the Boeing B-52.

I read somewhere many years ago that P&W was involved in nuclear engine design, and they did in fact develop a fan which would be driven by hot steam or something heated by the reactor. And that some of the gained experience with fans turned out to be useful when they converted the JT3C jet engine into JT3D turbofan on the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 airliners.

The American program was cancelled in 1958, and the Russian program is likely to have ended three years later.

The NB-36H flew with a 3 megawatt reactor. That's almost the same as the power from one of its six radial engines or one of its four jet engines. So actual nuclear flight would have needed a much more powerful reactor.
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Francoflier
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 2:26 am

I agree that as long as heavy and radioactive elements are used for nuclear reactions, the technology will not live inside a civilian aircraft.

Fusion, maybe, a long time away... But following today's technological bearing, I suspect electric propulsion will happen first. Whether that electricity is produced onboard or stored in some sort of advanced batteries or capacitors remains to be seen. I suspect hybridization is likely.

Once that technology is established, it would be easy to adapt some sort of light and clean nuclear power source if battery technology doesn't allow for sufficient range/weight ratio by then.
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dampfnudel
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 4:04 am

The future of aircraft propulsion is definitely electric. How far into the future is the big question.
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mxaxai
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 4:32 am

reltney wrote:
DDR wrote:
Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.



True, a nuclear powered aircraft hitting the ground would be a hand full. Not making fun of you but how hypocritical some are. FYI there are over 100 nuclear powerplants in America. Europe has more nuclear power plants per populous than most nations. If you feel that strongly about not using nuclear power, turn off all your electrical uses.....phone, computer, house items. Start digging that coal.


It's a mitigated low risk power to supply our needs. If one of these plains were to hit the ground, it doesn't look like a nuke bomb went off. Nuclear power is above us in space as we type....... Been there since the 60s. Nuclear Powerplants all over the world. Some use it irresponsibly and must be monitored yet most use it and it is wonderful. Imagine the power to all the 3rd world countries....

US and Russia did its tests with flying nuclear reactors but none flew under nuclear power.

Off the soap box.... Flamers flame away.....

I would agree that well designed, continously monitored and reasonably used nuclear power can be safe. But finely distributed uranium, or any uranium compound that can enter the body, can cause great harm to those exposed to it. The plane's reactor probably wouldn't blow up but if a fire broke out that disperses the uranium and its decay products in the vicinity of the crash you really wouldn't want to be standing anywhere next to it.

There's also the issue of radiation shielding. Vast amounts of stored energy are all right but you still need to protect your passengers from getting fried (not to be taken literally). And any kind of shielding is inherently heavy.
 
rbavfan
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 4:37 am

jetblueguy22 wrote:
The USAF tried it in the 50s with the B-36, too many obstacles to overcome.


Where did you get this idea?
 
B764er
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 4:46 am

51-5712 was a NB36-H. It flew 89 hours in nuclear mode tested between 1955 - 1957 over Texas and New Mexico. It doesn't say what happened to it, I say they may have it parked at area 51.
 
2175301
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 5:36 am

B764er wrote:
51-5712 was a NB36-H. It flew 89 hours in nuclear mode tested between 1955 - 1957 over Texas and New Mexico. It doesn't say what happened to it, I say they may have it parked at area 51.


The unfueled reactors for these aircraft are on display in Idaho II've seen them up close and personal). You can get within about 5 ft of them; and my memory is that you will get 2 to 5 mrem dose if you stay for 15 minutes.

What happened to the actual aircraft used... I have no idea.

Have a great day,
 
BlueberryWheats
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 5:46 am

Tucker1 wrote:
reltney wrote:
DDR wrote:
Um, can you imagine the disaster when one of these aircraft crashed into a populated area? Never going to happen. I would never fly on one of these birds and I wouldn't even want one of them flying over my house.



True, a nuclear powered aircraft hitting the ground would be a hand full. Not making fun of you but how hypocritical some are. FYI there are over 100 nuclear powerplants in America. Europe has more nuclear power plants per populous than most nations. If you feel that strongly about not using nuclear power, turn off all your electrical uses.....phone, computer, house items. Start digging that coal.


It's a mitigated low risk power to supply our needs. If one of these plains were to hit the ground, it doesn't look like a nuke bomb went off. Nuclear power is above us in space as we type....... Been there since the 60s. Nuclear Powerplants all over the world. Some use it irresponsibly and must be monitored yet most use it and it is wonderful. Imagine the power to all the 3rd world countries....

US and Russia did its tests with flying nuclear reactors but none flew under nuclear power.

Off the soap box.... Flamers flame away.....

I only was asking a question, not being a hypocrite, just something that came to mind. I understand that it's not realistic. But thanks anyway.


I believe he was calling DDR a hypocrite.

I agree with DDR, I wouldnt want to be anywhere near where a nuclear aircraft is flying and I don't a problem using nuclear power. You can't really compare a nuclear aircraft to a using nuclear generated power in the home. A nuclear power plant doesn't have the potential to crash into the ground near you.
 
 
2175301
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 5:56 am

gtae07 wrote:
LockheedBBD wrote:
Not until nuclear fusion technology (the safest/harmless nuclear technology available) in a small and light package becomes feasible. Which is to say, maybe 100-200 years from now, if ever. They are still trying to nail down the basics of nuclear fusion.


100-200 years for fusion is a little pessimistic. "We" have achieved sustained fusion in the lab. The trick comes in sustaining it long term, and then making it a net energy producer (right now it takes more energy to light it off and keep it going than can be extracted).

I'd wager we could have useful fusion in 20 years, if a large country or group of countries made it a moon-shot level priority. Unfortunately, the word "nuclear" gets tossed about and everyone wets their pants...



That is a wager you will lose... badly. They might (and I focus on the word might) be able to create a sustained fusion reaction within 20 years... but; an issue not often talked about - although the reasearches are well aware of it - is that the Tokomak and several other designs most often talked about and being used for the initial fusion research are inherently uncool-able for long sustained reactions... If they can create the sustained reaction they have to turn it off after 10 to 15 seconds to prevent the machine from melting. It is theoretically not possible to cool it with current technology due to the inherent configuration of these machines

I was personally involved in the construction of a twisted vessel that could be cooled - but, this experiment was at a pre-fusion research stage (HSX); a form of stellerator. I was part of the team that did the explosive forming of the metal pieces to the complex shape; and was involved in construction of other test vessels for the University of Wisconsin Fusion Center.

http://www.hsx.wisc.edu/

Germany is building a real one to attempt fusion, and it is not simple. The key is that this kind of machine can be cooled and could contain continuous for monts - years fusion reaction as long as the cooling system does not malfunction. See link below:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/10 ... ear-fusion

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendelstein_7-X

This is the real future of fusion based on all known current methods. Extremely expensive to build at this point - and no one has yet added the needed liquid sodium cooling system (I was a bit involved in that research too on how to cool this shape - with scale models).

Have fun,
 
Noshow
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:13 am

There have been and are satellites that are nuclear powered. Especially ones with very high energy consumption like radar satellites.
 
FatCat
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:21 am

Noshow wrote:
There have been and are satellites that are nuclear powered. Especially ones with very high energy consumption like radar satellites.

I think there's a difference between nuclear isotopes batteries and nuclear reactors. There are still pacemakers powered by radioactive isotopes in small batteries but those people do not have a NBR in their torso :lol:
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vahancrazy
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:34 am

that reminds me of a time I was boarding an EN flight FRA-VRN some years ago.
On the seat behind me a guy was trying to look cool with a girl and he said that the Concorde was stopped from flying because it was unsafe due to his nuclear powered engines.

...unfortunately I forgot the other interesting stories he told.
 
Noshow
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:44 am

Nuclear power can be provided by batteries as well.
 
FatCat
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:47 am

So maybe there is a possibility for nuclear powered batteries powering electric engines?
I don't think so - ambientalnazi will go crazy thinking about a plane with radioactive material overflying their heads... and apart from that, there is a serious hazardous pollution problem, if one of these planes crashes, you don't think so?
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WIederling
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 7:51 am

FlyHossD wrote:
Wikipedia has a decent summary:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36H


go one level up:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear-powered_aircraft

that covers most projects.
Super Icky: Project Pluto / SLAM ( Supersonic Low Altitude Missile) : a nuclear cruise missile.
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peterinlisbon
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 12:40 pm

This is one of those ideas that is so bad that it sounds like an April fools joke. There are battery electric planes flying already but I don't think anyone would want a nuclear reactor in their airspace.
 
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Revelation
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 1:06 pm

Revelation wrote:
I don't often offer videos in response to questions, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85NgTNM0gAI is well worth watching if you're interested in this topic.

It goes through US and USSR efforts in the nuclear powered aircraft space and has interviews with some of the principals.

Tucker1 wrote:
Thanks guys! I'll definitely check them out!

That one played OK on my PC but not on my phone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KChXO-MiWMk is a better link.

prebennorholm wrote:
jetblueguy22 wrote:
The USAF tried it in the 50s with the B-36, too many obstacles to overcome.

The USSR had a similar program with one test aircraft Tupolev Tu-95LAL, but came no further than the Americans with the Convair NB-36H.

Both were tested with reactors operating, mounted in the bomb bays, to test shielding and other radiation effects.

If engines had been developed, then the prototypes would have been named Tu-119 based on the Tu-95, and X-6 based on Convair B-36, or maybe Convair B-60, a cancelled, updated B-36, which lost against the Boeing B-52.

I read somewhere many years ago that P&W was involved in nuclear engine design, and they did in fact develop a fan which would be driven by hot steam or something heated by the reactor. And that some of the gained experience with fans turned out to be useful when they converted the JT3C jet engine into JT3D turbofan on the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 airliners.

The American program was cancelled in 1958, and the Russian program is likely to have ended three years later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KChXO-MiWMk compares these two planes, at a "Popular Science" kind of level. It has a lot of cool videos and interviews with some of the principals, mainly Herbert York.

I find their discussion of the motivations behind the project to be fascinating. Basically, in the mid/late 1940s as the Cold War was starting the USAF (as well as the Red Army Air Force) knew they needed huge ranges (USA to USSR and back) and saw no other feasible way to get it. Early experiments with tankering were not showing the kind of promise we now know it had. Same could be said for missiles. A nuclear aircraft could be airborne for months. You could keep them in orbit offshore of the USSR that would be ready to plunge in and attack at a moment's notice, kind of like how a nuclear missile submarine now lurks offshore. USA was phenomenally wealthy after being "the last man standing" post -WWII and the USSR was a totalitarian state so there wasn't a lot of reason to not figure out if it was worth doing.

In the end, the nuclear powered submarine with missiles turned out to be a far better idea than the nuclear bomber. It just took till the mid-late 50s to figure that out.

prebennorholm wrote:
The NB-36H flew with a 3 megawatt reactor. That's almost the same as the power from one of its six radial engines or one of its four jet engines. So actual nuclear flight would have needed a much more powerful reactor.

True, but the B36 based bomber was really just a testbed to figure out the issues with airborne reactors such as shielding. The reactor wasn't even connected to the engines.
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FatCat
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 1:10 pm

The NB-36H reactor was then grounded and used for many years as research reactor, in Idaho if I do remember well.
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TasosANG
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 2:48 pm

Practically a nuclear power engine is nothing more than a boiler. This boiler warm up water, and transform it to steam. This steam turns a turbine and from them you can give power to a lot of thinks as for example a propeller. If we try to fit that short of engine on an airplane most possible we have to solve the following problems.
1. Size of the construction. Looks like that we need a space in the airplane where we can fit the boiler, a water storage place, cooler and all the auxiliary equipment for that and of course appropriate steam lines and return lines to send the steam to engines.It is difficult to imagine that every engine can be a unit with his own boiler and auxiliaries. Plus which size requires an engine to work with this pricipals.
2. Weight. Not only the engine Will be big and heavy, but also the amount of water which required will be big and heavy.
3. What if something around the central installation fails. No engines at all. At least as we are now more or less every engine is an almost autonomous unit.
4. In the sea the water that requires the boiler is coming from the sea. After passes a special treatment to remove all the chlorides and what else can harm the system. The ship is possible to replace the loss of water that has from the installation with that way,and always is a lost amount. The airplane can’t do that. She need water bunkering. So she has not unlimited range.
5. Safety of the system, prevention of a big disaster and security, that nobody will try to use an airplane as his personal radioactive material super
:P
 
TasosANG
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 2:58 pm

To add some thinks to my last post:
First of all my last word there was supermarket. No idea where disappeared the last part.
Second, was also at least one merchant navy ship nuclear powered. The Savanah if I don’t make mistake. Also this project didn’t succeed.
There is no civilian vehicle to this day on earththat in nuclear powered, but I don’t know exactly why. Are technical, safety, or economical reasons behind.
:P
 
Bald1983
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 3:33 pm

Tucker1 wrote:
Would it be feasible to make a nuclear powered airliner sometime? If not, i'm guessing the military has already thought of it.


Many obstacles, including the weight involved.
 
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Revelation
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 3:46 pm

TasosANG wrote:
Practically a nuclear power engine is nothing more than a boiler. This boiler warm up water, and transform it to steam. This steam turns a turbine and from them you can give power to a lot of thinks as for example a propeller. If we try to fit that short of engine on an airplane most possible we have to solve the following problems.
1. Size of the construction. Looks like that we need a space in the airplane where we can fit the boiler, a water storage place, cooler and all the auxiliary equipment for that and of course appropriate steam lines and return lines to send the steam to engines.It is difficult to imagine that every engine can be a unit with his own boiler and auxiliaries. Plus which size requires an engine to work with this pricipals.
2. Weight. Not only the engine Will be big and heavy, but also the amount of water which required will be big and heavy.
3. What if something around the central installation fails. No engines at all. At least as we are now more or less every engine is an almost autonomous unit.
4. In the sea the water that requires the boiler is coming from the sea. After passes a special treatment to remove all the chlorides and what else can harm the system. The ship is possible to replace the loss of water that has from the installation with that way,and always is a lost amount. The airplane can’t do that. She need water bunkering. So she has not unlimited range.
5. Safety of the system, prevention of a big disaster and security, that nobody will try to use an airplane as his personal radioactive material super

In the video above it says that there were two engines being developed for the NB-36, one by General Electric and one by Pratt & Whitney. The GE engine was using the steam directly from the reactor to feed the turbine so the steam was very radioactive. The PW engine was using the hot water from the reactor to heat a 2nd closed loop system that fed the turbine, so that steam was far less radioactive. But of course the PW system was a lot heavier!
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2175301
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Thu May 03, 2018 4:05 pm

Noshow wrote:
Nuclear power can be provided by batteries as well.


Actually the safety issue for nuclear batteries can be overcome - they can (and some are) desinged to survive a crash and fire without any release of radioactive materials (that can be designed in).

The real problem is that they are very heavy for the short term power produced, and very large for the output as well... (Watt output/kg is very small, and energy density of the nuclear battery system is lousy). Nuclear batteries large enough to power any aircraft would likely fill the entire aircraft and be too heavy to ever lift off the ground.

They do run for years - and even decades. Thus, they have uses where small amounts of power for very long time is needed.

Ohhh... Did I mention cost $$$$ They are the most expensive battery in the world. $Million + is typical.

So, no nuclear battery powered aircraft is every likely...

Have a great day,
 
WIederling
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Fri May 04, 2018 7:36 am

TasosANG wrote:
Practically a nuclear power engine is nothing more than a boiler. This boiler warm up water, and transform it to steam.


The Soviet "nuclear" engine NK14 ( a basic turbo prop design) would have been a direct cycle heat engine.
i.e. compress air, pipe it to the reactor heat it in the core pipe back to engine and expand, drive propeller and
compressor.
i.e. a turbo shaft engine with a remote combustion ( here just heating ) chamber.
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mxaxai
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Fri May 04, 2018 8:29 am

FatCat wrote:
Noshow wrote:
There have been and are satellites that are nuclear powered. Especially ones with very high energy consumption like radar satellites.

I think there's a difference between nuclear isotopes batteries and nuclear reactors. There are still pacemakers powered by radioactive isotopes in small batteries but those people do not have a NBR in their torso :lol:

There actually are nuclear fission reactors in space. The wikipedia article is kinda vague regarding US-made models but the soviet union launched 33 liquid metal cooled reactors, which today are a major source of space debris. (The radioactive core was ejected into high orbit after end of mission to prevent their uncontrolled reentry. The metal coolant was released in the process, forming a large number of metal droplets.)
WIederling wrote:
TasosANG wrote:
Practically a nuclear power engine is nothing more than a boiler. This boiler warm up water, and transform it to steam.


The Soviet "nuclear" engine NK14 ( a basic turbo prop design) would have been a direct cycle heat engine.
i.e. compress air, pipe it to the reactor heat it in the core pipe back to engine and expand, drive propeller and
compressor.
i.e. a turbo shaft engine with a remote combustion ( here just heating ) chamber.

How did they cool it when the plane was not moving? Keep the engine at idle power all the time to maintain airflow around the core? Inability to remove decay heat, especially initially after shutdown, could cause serious trouble.
 
WIederling
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Fri May 04, 2018 8:36 am

mxaxai wrote:
How did they cool it when the plane was not moving? Keep the engine at idle power all the time to maintain airflow around the core? Inability to remove decay heat, especially initially after shutdown, could cause serious trouble.


Would be my guess too. With a turboprop you can always arrange prop blades such that it is an energy dissipation.
( But I haven't read all available documentation (yet))
Murphy is an optimist
 
FatCat
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Fri May 04, 2018 9:05 am

mxaxai wrote:
There actually are nuclear fission reactors in space. The wikipedia article is kinda vague regarding US-made models but the soviet union launched 33 liquid metal cooled reactors, which today are a major source of space debris. (The radioactive core was ejected into high orbit after end of mission to prevent their uncontrolled reentry. The metal coolant was released in the process, forming a large number of metal droplets.)

Nice to know, but those metal droplets (mercury?) will evaporate on reentry, right?
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WIederling
Posts: 8732
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Re: Nuclear powered aircraft?

Fri May 04, 2018 11:54 am

FatCat wrote:
Nice to know, but those metal droplets (mercury?) will evaporate on reentry, right?


?eutectic? alloy of sodium and potassium
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium-potassium_alloy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOPAZ_nuclear_reactor
Murphy is an optimist

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