The RECREATE (REsearch on a CRuiser Enabled Air Transport Environment) project, initiated by the European Union, parallels work done by U.S. NARI in the design of nuclear powered airplanes. As noted in each, when LENR nuclear energy becomes available many of the design constraints for fission reactors are removed, making nuclear powered aircraft feasible. Every aspect for nuclear flight has been thought out, engineered, and is ready for the application of LENR thermal. Here is a status report and a thesis that covers this subject matter.

Disruptive Nuclear Physics Quotes from the Status Report

RECREATE is close to the formulation of a roadmap towards airworthiness.

– For RECREATE concept 1 (nuclear cruiser) airworthiness is not within reach; awaiting discovery and confirmation of new disruptive nuclear physics.

– For RECREATE concept 2 (refuelling) similarity with airworthiness of autoland solutions is suggested. AW of RECREATE concept 2 is now judged as being feasible.

also noteworthy

  • However, if the Cruiser can be propelled by a nuclear power source the efficiency parameters are very high compared to the reference case. – Even if the weight of the system is higher.
  • Concept is retained for study, because it cannot be excluded that new nuclear physics will be discovered and confirmed in the future.

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LENR Quote from the Thesis

Another, more well-known, concept for alternative nuclear energy is that of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). This is a general term that encompasses different processes that claim to achieve nuclear fusion at temperatures far below the plasma environment that is normally required for nuclear fusion to take place. The most well-known claim started in 1989 by Fleischmann and Pons with the publication of an article reporting excessive heat production during an experiment that involved electrolysis of heavy water on the surface of a palladium electrode[21]. Reporting net energy productions of 300% the energy input, this sparked a lot of enthusiasm throughout the (scientific) community. From the publication date onwards, numerous researchers have tried to replicate the aforementioned results. Some have found energy gains but most were futile. A summary is given in [22] with the following sentence. “So far all microscopic investigations have shown that the low-temperature fusion reaction is taking place only on tiny, isolated areas of the surface of Pd and also other metals.”

The Status Report

REsearch on a CRuiser Enabled Air Transport Environment (RECREATE)
Koen de Cock (NLR) - A brief status report, based on work performed by the RECREATE partners. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 284741.

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RECREATE Project duration: August 2011 to January 2015

Project website: www.cruiser-feeder.eu

Images: http://www.cruiser-feeder.eu/images/index.h…

RECREATE Partners:

  • NLR Amsterdam, NLR is the Netherlands Aerospace Centre for identifying, developing and applying advanced technological knowledge in the area of aerospace. Our activities are relevant to society, market-oriented and carried out on a non-profit basis. We thus strengthen the innovativeness, competitiveness and effectiveness of government and business.
  • DLR Braunschweig, The German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Braunschweig does research in the fields of aeronautics, transport, space and energy. Located at the Research Airport, DLR continues the tradition of the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DFL), founded in 1936, and employs there about 1100 highly-qualified scientists and engineers.
  • FOI Sweden, FOI’s main role is to pursue research and the development of methods and technologies plus investigative work for the Swedish Armed Forces. FOI is the largest combined defence and national security research organisation in Sweden. FOI’s know-how developing research is chiefly undertaken in closely connected research commissions from the Swedish Armed Forces and in certain grant funded projects from the Swedish Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. The defence and security know-how that FOI has built up can also be applied on behalf of other clients. FOI works with authorities, companies and also with international clients, primarily in the defence sector.
  • TU Munich, The Technische Universität München (TUM;University of Technology, Munich; Technical University of Munich) is a research university with campuses in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan. The university has a sound international reputation and was ranked 2nd in Germany, 15th in Europe and 56th in the world in 2010 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In the same year, it was ranked 2nd in Germany, 16th in Europe and 58th in the world (overall) and in Engineering & Technology 1st in Germany, 9th in Europe and 36th in the world by the QS World University Rankings. In 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked Technical University Munich 4th in Germany, 29th in Europe and 101st in the world.
  • TU Delft Netherland

It was an Act which took effect on 1st September, 1986, that officially transformed the Institute of Technology into Delft University of Technology, also known as ‘TU Delft’ (from the Dutch name Technische Universiteit Delft).

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The significance of the TU Delft logo:

The essence of the TU Delft logo is Prometheus’ flame. Prometheus brought the flame from Olympus to the people, against the will of Zeus.

People’s knowledge then had not yet developed. They did not know of the course of the stars and the cause of the seasons, nor did they know about construction. They could not wield the power of fire either.

Prometheus (he, who looks ahead) was an innovative Greek god and became their first professor of engineering. He taught them to manage fire, to observe the stars, to sail the seas, to bake bricks and to build houses. Prometheus also taught the people to esteem the beauty of nature.

TU Delft can follow in Prometheus’ footsteps by developing innovative, durable and environment-friendly technology. Prometheus’ flame thereby makes a worthy symbol for TU Delft.

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  • Queen’s University Belfast, Queen’s University Belfast has its roots in the Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810, one of the United Kingdom’s 10 oldest universities, and remains as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The present university was first chartered as “Queen’s College, Belfast” in 1845, when it was associated with the simultaneously founded Queen’s College, Cork, and Queen’s College, Galway, as part of the Queen’s University of Ireland.
  • ZHAW Zurich, The ZHAW is one of the leading universities of applied sciences in Switzerland. Teaching, research, continuing education and other services are both scientifically-based and practice-oriented. In our work in research and development, we concentrate on important societal challenges, with a particular focus on energy and social integration.
  • Nangia Research Associates, UK
  • NRG Netherlands, The Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) is a Dutch institute that performs nuclear research for the government and privatecompanies. It is the most important producer of radionuclides in Europe and maintains and operates the Petten nuclear reactor. The institute also offers services to medical, chemical, oil, and gas companies.

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The Thesis

“FEASIBILITY STUDY OF A NUCLEAR-POWERED PASSENGER AIRCRAFT HEAT CYCLE DESIGN FOR THE RECREATE CRUISER”
by T.J.H.S. Schuwer in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, to be defended publicly on June 22nd, 2015 at 15:00 PM.

ABSTRACT

In view of stricter environmental regulations, diminishing fossil fuel reserves, and the resulting increase in fuel prices the aviation industry is required to make severe changes to ensure its continued existence. Even though more fuel efficient variations on current designs can help for now, long term solutions will only be found in a thorough redesign of the entire industry, including operation, aircraft design and propulsion systems. Whereas current aircraft have to be designed for cruise as well as take-off and landing, the European Commission sponsors the RECREATE research project to investigate the cruiser-feeder set up, in which cruise-optimised aircraft stay aloft for extended periods while feeder aircraft provide the link to the ground delivering payload and/or fuel to the cruiser. This study focusses on the design of a cruiser aircraft that uses nuclear power to transport up to 1000 passengers so that its endurance is only limited by maintenance intervals.

A nuclear-powered passenger aircraft requires extensive safety considerations to be operated with minimal danger to its passengers as well as the environment. Even though the Cold War produced some design options for nuclear aircraft, new research is needed to assess this concept’s feasibility in the near future aircraft industry. RECREATE has provided a preliminary layout for the cruiser aircraft, however weight estimation of the propulsion system that converts reactor power into propulsion proves to be a major hurdle in assessing the feasibility of the cruiser design. Within the 1 million kg weight budget that has been set, 100,000 kg is reserved for each heat cycle. Therefore, this study sets out to design a weight optimised propulsion system, for which various heat cycles are being considered and thoroughly analysed.

The heat cycle design process starts by determining the reactor coolant, which is selected to be LBE because of its inherent radiation shielding and heat transfer properties. The heat from this primary fluid is transferred to a secondary cycle, outside of the shielding vessel to generate propulsive power. Three options are investigated for this secondary cycle: an open cycle using FLiBe as a working fluid, and two variants of closed cycle using s-CO2, one with a regenerative and one with a recompression set-up. Because LBE limits the output temperature, the open cycle proves to be inapplicable for the cruiser so this study focusses on the closed cycle options. To come up with preliminary sizing results, the optimisation process is initiated by a grid search, in which the heat cycle components’ weights are minimised for a distinct set of cycle input parameters. This provides the starting point for the overall optimisation that comes up with the final minimum weight heat cycle. In this process, cycle and component efficiencies are linked to the output weight by means of a reactor power weight penalty. The weight optimisation includes the sizing of heat exchangers and piping of the system, whilst leaving turbomachinery and driveshafts to be optimised in other studies.

In the grid search, the regenerative cycle’s reduced number of components and lower mass flow causes it to come out as the lightest of the two remaining options. After the optimisation the minimum weight cycle has an overall thermodynamic efficiency of 45.4% using a maximum pressure of 60.5 MPa. The CO2 cooler, using air as the cooling fluid, proves to be the biggest weight contribution, which is to be expected given the poor heat transfer properties of air, and the total cycle weight is 65,600 kg. This leaves a budget of 34,400 kg for the systems that have not been sized such as the compressors and turbines. This is considered more than sufficient, thereby allowing the overall heat cycle weight to remain within the required 100,000 kg. The design of a nuclear cruiser requires comprehensive additional research and validation before it can actually be flown. Besides the detailed design of the reactor and safety features, the results of this thesis have to be corroborated by further calculations, simulations, and experiments. Nevertheless, this research has provided an important initial assessment of nuclear-powered propulsion for civil aviation.

INTRODUCTION

In view of stricter environmental regulations[1], diminishing fossil fuel reserves[2], and the resulting increase in fuel prices[3] the aviation industry is required to make severe changes to ensure its continued existence. Even though more fuel efficient variations on current designs can help for now, long term solutions will only be found in a thorough redesign of the entire industry, including operation, aircraft design and propulsion systems.

The European Commission initiated a research group to think out of the box and come up with concepts that cater flight operations into the 22nd century. After exploratory research performed by this research group[4], the cruiser-feeder concept appeared as one of the most feasible options out of the 100 ideas for achieving this goal. The RECREATE (REsearch on a CRuiser Enabled Air Transport Environment) project has been sponsored by the European Commission to investigate this concept in particular.

1.1. THE CRUISER-FEEDER CONCEPT AND THE NUCLEAR CRUISER

Several options in design and operations exist within the cruiser-feeder concept[5]. Each of these include a cruiser aircraft that stays aloft for extended periods of time, while feeder aircraft fly shorter legs between their bases and the cruiser to exchange resources in flight. One aspect that all options have in common is that the cruiser-feeder set-up requires two distinct aircraft, each optimised for its specific mission. This is a contrast with the current operation of aircraft, which have to be designed for efficient cruise as well as frequent landing and takeoff operations with adequate performance. The cruiser-feeder concept entails a cruiser aircraft, which is almost completely catered towards maximal flight efficiency, and a feeder aircraft that is designed specifically for takeoff and landing performance. Several categories can be distinguished within the cruiser-feeder operational approach: concepts without any transfer of aircraft contents, concepts in which the aircraft exchange fuel, and concepts where payload is exchanged in flight. The RECREATE project investigated two solutions from the last two categories. In the first, fuel is exchanged[6]. The second concept, which is the subject of this thesis, falls in the last category. Feeder aircraft transfer passengers from airports to cruise altitude. There the feeder aircraft transfer their fuselage to the cruiser via a transport mechanism aboard the cruiser. A picture of the concept proposed by the project can be seen in figure 1.1, with a detail of the passenger transfer process being depicted in figure 1.2.

Once contained in the cruiser, passengers can exit the feeder fuselage and are seated in the large cruiser fuselage for the duration of their flight. The cruiser functions as a “hub in the sky” so that passengers with different destinations can depart from the same location in the same feeder. Once the feeder to a specific destination is nearing the cruiser for docking, passengers for that destination transfer back to a feeder fuselage and are flown to their destination by the feeder. The overall mission profile of this concept can be seen in figure 1.3

This set-up is most effective if the cruiser can stay airborne for as long as possible without having to be refuelled. Therefore, the option is presented to power the cruiser using an on-board nuclear reactor instead of conventional jet fuel. A nuclear fission process uses a negligible fuel weight if compared to the thousands of kilograms of jet fuel that are burned during cruise by current aircraft. Moreover, nuclear propulsion has no production of greenhouse gases. In principle, a nuclear-powered aircraft only has to land in order to perform maintenance.

2.1.1. EXPERIMENTAL IDEAS

Besides the currently available fission process, there are other methods for generating energy from nuclear processes. Especially the nuclear fusion reactor concept has generated a lot of excitement when Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works research team announced a design study into a nuclear fusion-powered aircraft. Fusion promises a large amount of heat generated with minimal production of radiation, which would be very beneficial for aircraft operation. However, it does require a stable plasma environment, which can only be supplied using immensely large magnets. Including all this into the aircraft design results in a vastly different design process than the current configuration of the RECREATE project. Weight fractions of shielding should be changed and the surrounding structure and exact layout of the fusion reactor has to be known in order to design the cruiser as a fusion-powered aircraft. These changes, along with the fact that large-scale fusion has not been proven experimentally causes a fusion reactor to not be considered in this study.

During the literature research of nuclear propulsion options, a radical concept was found. In 1999, a research was published that reported about a new way of generating energy called Triggered Isomer Heat Exchanger (TIHE)[18]. Using simple X-ray radiation on an isomer of Hafnium, energy is generated while only producing low energy gamma rays. This kind of radiation is easier to shield than the radiation from a regular neutron-induced nuclear reaction because of the lower energy of the radiation and the fact that no neutrons are emitted. Therefore, the shielding around the reactor can be made much lighter. The possible efficiency gains triggered some master theses to be performed on designing aircraft powered by TIHE reactions, like [19] for a military drone similar to the current Global Hawk. However, the excitement proved to be immature because other researchers trying to corroborate the findings of [18] found that the release of energy was not present to the extent that it had been claimed[20].

Another, more well-known, concept for alternative nuclear energy is that of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). This is a general term that encompasses different processes that claim to achieve nuclear fusion at temperatures far below the plasma environment that is normally required for nuclear fusion to take place. The most well-known claim started in 1989 by Fleischmann and Pons with the publication of an article reporting excessive heat production during an experiment that involved electrolysis of heavy water on the surface of a palladium electrode[21]. Reporting net energy productions of 300% the energy input, this sparked a lot of enthusiasm throughout the (scientific) community. From the publication date onwards, numerous researchers have tried to replicate the aforementioned results. Some have found energy gains but most were futile. A summary is given in [22] with the following sentence. “So far all microscopic investigations have shown that the low-temperature fusion reaction is taking place only on tiny, isolated areas of the surface of Pd and also other metals.” This explains why some experiments have measured favourable results from identical experiments where others measured nothing useful. Due to the amount of information that is still unknown about particle physics, many effects cannot be fully explained. The beneficial effect might be present for some of the claims but actually harnessing the process for large scale energy production has not been achieved for any of the experimental options, nor is it likely to happen in the near future.

-end quotes

Recommended relevant reading and leads...

Jamal Shrair Amar

Developing on Efficient Low-Temperature Nuclear Fusion Reaction INFINITE ENERGY 16:(93) pp. 56-59. (2010)

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Can a Solid-State Nuclear Fusion Reactor Be the Ulimate Green Energy Solution? INFINITE ENERGY 15:(88) pp. 66-68. (2009)

“Out Of The Box Ideas About the Future of Air Transport Part 2" November 2007 - This report has been produced under contract from ACARE and funded by the European Commission. The report was printed by the European Commission services. The Assessment Team: Arnaud Lafitte, Chris Burton, Johanes Reichmuth, Luigi Bottasso, Marc Brochard, Marcello Amato, Jose Martin Hernandez, Matthias Meussen, Nick McDonald, Dimitris Mourtzis, Paul Kuentzmann, Phil Walsh, Jost Seifert, Patricia Pelfrene, Trevor Truman, Ad de Graaff.

34th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference 13–17 June 2016 Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C. This event provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of technical material in diverse areas of theoretical, computational, and experimental applied aerodynamics. Conference sessions will focus on technical topics in the areas of wind-tunnel and flight-testing aerodynamics, unsteady aerodynamics, subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic aerodynamics, sonic boom mitigation, high angle of attack and high lift aerodynamics, CFD high lift prediction, low-speed low-Reynolds number aerodynamics, bio-inspired aerodynamics, airfoil/wing/configuration aerodynamics, propeller/rotorcraft/wind-turbine aerodynamics, weapons and store separation aerodynamics, aerodynamic design methodologies, optimization methods in applied aerodynamics, active flow control, vortical/vortex flow, unmanned aerial vehicle designs/tests, propulsion aerodynamics, missile/projectile/guided-munitions aerodynamics, aerodynamic-structural dynamics interaction, and application of CFD methods to aerodynamic configurations validated against experimental data.

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RECREATE – REsearch on a CRuiser Enabled Air Transport Environment
At TU Delft Transport Institute
By Dries Visser (TU Delft – Aerospace Engineering)

“Low Energy Nuclear Reaction Aircraft” NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) 2014 Seedling Technical Seminar

Then there’s the NASA Spaceworks LENR spaceplanes on the horizon (see slide 31). LENR energy density enables over one gee continuous thrust for acceleration and deceleration, allowing powered landing (no heat shield for atmospheric braking).

“NASA LENR Aircraft and Spaceplanes”

Triggers the imagination, as reality often does.

“Kennedy NASA LENR Adaptation”

Mystery or Knot Science

Mystery is a knot – Intertwining
Science is an art – Unraveling

Love is a life – Learning
Love is a lattice – Vibration
Love is a source – Energizing
Love is a world – Operation

Love is the air. We Breathe of…
Love is the fire. We Live with…
Love is the water. We Drink in…
Love is the earth. We Birth from…

Art of Love of Science
Rite of Well Being
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Heart Matter

The be all
The end
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Is

Cold Fusion
Quantum
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Knot

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