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Old 10-28-2008, 01:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Back when the US was looking at developing a nuclear powered bomber the big problem was shielding the crew from the reactor. Any thying that would block the radiation was dense and heavy. Recently a major breakthrough has been made in blocking radiation with a lightweight material. Its called Demron Demron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

With this new material it will be possible to overcome the insurmountable problems that plagued the nuclear powered bomber program.

At the time there were two basic engine operating principals: the direct cycle and the indirect cycle.

The direct cycle used the nuclear fuel to heat the air in the jet engine directly. This engine is very light and efficient. Unfortunately it spews radio active particles out the exhaust.

The indirect cycle uses a closed loop system that uses an intermediate transport medium to conduct heat from the radio active fuel to the turbine engine section to heat the air. This system is heavier and less efficient than the direct cycle. It does however contain all nuclear particles within the engine.

One of the things that made the nuclear powered bomber ineffective was the weight of a indirect cycle engine and the shielding to protect the crew. With the improved shielding material Demron it will be possible to build a lighter indirect engine as well as lighter shielding to protect the crew.

At the time of the nuclear powered bomber program the only viable flying design would have had to use direct cycle engines that would have also had to be operated continuously even while on the ground to keep the nuclear fuel from melting down. This would not only have been a hazard to all of the areas the plane flew over but would have nuked the ground crew and made the airforce base uninhabitable.

Comparisons to project pluto are not valid as part of project pluto's weapons potential was the fact that its engine did emit fallout. In fact after all of its warheads were dropped it was planned to fly the missile back and forth over enemy territory until the nuclear fuel was exhausted. This was a one time use weapon that had a limited amount of time in the air in comparison to a fully operational aircraft.
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