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Nuclear Torque Drive

Using ambient air through the reactor to drive a shaft
  [vote for,

Ok the idea is getting two positive displacement pumps with differing volumes attached to the same shaft. When you connect these so that the output of the smaller (compressing) goes into the larger (expanding) and turn them pressure drops between the two. Alternatively if you pressurise the middle, they turn. The same happens if you heat them.

So you have the smaller pump compressing, and in the heat chamber you have the reactor (or it's heat sink). Then because of the raise in temperature you also have a raise in pressure, and both pumps have equal (but opposing) pressure applied. Due to the larger pump being a larger displacement it applies more torque to the shaft than the smaller pump (assuming the pumps are otherwise identical).

So there you go, nuclear power - torque without the extra weight of the water cooling.

However this assumes that the ambient air will not become radioactive. Because there is no direct contact with the uranium I am doubting this, but anything is possible. Is there such a thing as radiated air?

BLSTIC, Sep 12 2009

Windscale Pile No. 1 and Wigner energy http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Windscale_fire
" As it was, "Cockcroft's Folly" probably prevented a disaster from becoming a catastrophe...Thomas Tuohy died on 12 March 2008 having never received any kind of public recognition for his efforts. " [normzone, Sep 13 2009]


       Hmm just realised the similarity to the next article - Nuclear Turbine.   

       Meh, I'll leave it for judging anyway.
BLSTIC, Sep 12 2009

       This is a really, really bad idea......   

       It could be done but it would be highly inadvisable.   

       To explain:   

       In the early years of nuclear power development, a reactor design characterised as GMAC (Graphite moderated, air cooled) was common as they are simple to design and build. But they have major problems. One was that the air blast cooling was open circuit, meaning that if a cartridge bursts, nuclides are released into the discharged cooling air.   

       But the second, and much more serious problem, is that of Wigner energy. Air-cooled reacotrs perforce operate at low temperatures, which permits the accumulation of Wigner energy in the graphite lattice. This has to be forced out by a process of "annealing" - running the reactor at a much higher than normal temperature for a time to release the stored energy.   

       During one such anneal in 1957, Windscale Pile No.1 overheated and caught fire. By heroic efforts, the fire was eventually extinguished, but there was significant contamination of the surrounding area and the pile has still not been successfully dismantled.   

       What you're describing - a gas turbine that uses a reactor rather than hydrocarbon fuel as its heating element - is thermodynamically practical. If you had a closed system using inert gas, it could be done. But not an open-vented design .....
8th of 7, Sep 12 2009

       good information. I didn't know about the Windscale incident because all we ever talk about here in the US is Three Mile Island. A great halfbaked idea in the context of modern water cooled reactors.
WcW, Sep 12 2009

       God bless google. I googled nuclear turbine and discovered there was a program that ended in the sixties that was trying to get a nuclear plane airborne. 120hours of nuclear turbine operation, 68 of them continuous. They had two versions, one of them with air running through the reactor, another with a 'liquid metal' reactor coolant flowing to a modified turbojet. They never actually flew in nuclear powered trim though due to the large (and concentrated) mass of the reactor and it's shielding. The engines worked fine though.
BLSTIC, Sep 13 2009

       What in the name of cod is Wigner energy?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 13 2009

       What's wrong, [MB] - Google broken where you are?

(I thought this was going to be an idea about the ultimate Heston Blumenthal recipe)
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Sep 13 2009


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