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SMR's in space, your future with Duff and Krusty. - Printable Version

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SMR's in space, your future with Duff and Krusty. - HHD - 08-16-2019

...Human exploration of Mars will therefore demand a different energy-production strategy. And that's where Kilopower comes in.

Like nuclear power plants designed to stay put on Earth, Kilopower is a fission reactor. It converts the heat generated by splitting atoms into electricity, via devices called Stirling engines. (Nuclear power plants, by contrast, generally use this heat to create turbine-turning steam.) 
In the ground-test series that wrapped up in March 2018, which was known as KRUSTY (Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology), the reactor converted 30% of fission heat into electricity, McClure said. This efficiency dwarfs that of RTGs, which convert about 7% of available heat.
"This was an extremely successful test," McClure said.
The Kilopower project officially started in 2015, but its architects proved out the basic concept back in 2012, via an experiment called Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF). And yes, "Simpsons" buffs, the Kilopower folks are your people: DUFF and KRUSTY are references to the iconic animated TV show. Project team member Dave Poston is a big fan, McClure said. (For the uninitiated, Duff is the beer favored by Homer Simpson, and degenerate, tax-dodging lout Krusty the Clown hosts a kids' TV show in the "Simpsons" universe.)