Sunday, April 14, 2013

Propulsion Nucléaire Aéronautique?

So here's a mystery.   I was skimming an old AEC list of reactor proposals for article ideas, and I came across an entry for a reactor called "BRENDA", that was going to be built by the Societe Nationale D'Etudes et de Construction de Moteurs D'Aviation (SNECMA) and the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) in Cadarache, France.   The reactor was gas-cooled, used ceramic-clad enriched uranium oxide fuel, and would be moderated by beryllium oxide.   1 MWth power, 1300 F temperature.   Purpose: aircraft propulsion prototype.

Now that's certainly something.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Nuclear-Powered Swimsuit

And I'm not talking about the bikini.

In the mid to late 60s, the AEC studied the use of Pu-238 radioisotope heaters to provide heat for a Navy wetsuit:

Figure 1: Pu-238-heated Wetsuit

(Okay, yes, technically it's a wetsuit, not a swimsuit.   I thought swimsuit made a better title.)