The NuGen Engine™. To develop a broadly deployable concept more immediately, Steve directed his research and development efforts toward a simpler concept of integrating a nuclear fuel core into a high-temperature gas propulsion chamber. Due to the concept's versatility and simple compact configuration, it is called the NuGen Engine™. Its simple compact configuration is due to its innovative helical fuel core architecture, its streamlined energy conversion system and its full integration (including the integration of its fuel core and turbomachinery).
The patent application on this technology was filed in November 2017. Information about the NuGen Engine™ was first presented at the Advanced Reactors Technical Summit V (www.arsummit.org) in February 2018, where it was well received. The next presentation of the NuGen Engine™ was in Houston in November 2018 at SpaceCom2018 (https://spacecomexpo.com/) where NuGen’s founder discussed the remote energy generation capability of the NuGen Engine™ for both space and on our planet at remote locations and for military and commercial purposes. The discussions during and after the conference validated the need and markets for the NuGen Engine™. Certain previously confidential information about the design, including the helical fuel core and its advantages, were described publicly for the first time in June 2019 at the GAIN Micro-Reactor Workshop held at Idaho National Laboratory.
Click here for a description of the NuGen Engine™, its key differentiators, uses and value proposition.
Steve Rhyne, NuGen’s founder, conceived of the ideas underlying his initial patents out of a concern in 2001 with the then growing predominance of coal plants, which at the time seemed likely to continue, and a frustration with what appeared to be the nuclear industry’s almost singular focus on water-cooled reactors. Since then, Steve has continued to be motived in actively pursuing his vision of commercializing these revolutionary nuclear concepts by his concern about climate change and his belief in the vital role that nuclear energy can play in decarbonizing our national and global economy without jeopardizing our economic prosperity.
Initial Concepts & Patents. Steve’s initial concepts were based on integrating a fission fuel core into a jet engine and using the kinetic energy generated by the revolving nuclear-fueled jet engines to produce electricity by converting the kinetic energy directly into electricity. The wasteful conversion of nuclear energy to thermal energy to generate electricity would thus be eliminated and the steam generator/turbomachinery associated with most nuclear power plant designs eliminated. The risks and costs associated with such machinery and piping would be eliminated, and this configuration results in a simpler design and one more suitable for factory manufacture. These concepts have been patented by Steve and assigned to NuGen: Patent Nos. 6,877,209 B1 (4/12/2005) and 7,073,319 (7/11/2006)
These patented concepts, as refined, were analyzed by Professor Tsvetkov and his group at the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University. In its Concept Feasibility Analysis and Pre-conceptual Design Development study dated September 19, 2012, it concluded that the NuGen concept “is a unique concept offering a number of performance advantages and promising design features that are not found in other nuclear reactor concepts.” The study recommended the concept as technically feasible to pursue towards engineering prototyping and potential deployment. Dr. Tsvetkov’s group proceeded to develop engineering system designs based on the patented concepts.
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