March 09, 2012

George Miley Upcoming Presentation A Game-Changing Power Source Based on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENRs)

Ecat Site- George Miley is set to give a presentation on March 23 at the Emerging Technologies for Space conference in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston. An abstract of his presentation has been released and can be found here. It is entitled “A Game-Changing Power Source Based on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENRs).” Miley wants to replace the Plutonium heat source in a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) with a LENR device.

Miley is Guggenheim Fellow and Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He was Senior NATO Fellow from 1994 to 1995, received the Edward Teller Medal in 1995, the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Award in Fusion Technology in 2003 and the Radiation Science and Technology Award in 2004. He holds several patents.

George Miley is also an expert on Inertial Electrostatic Fusion. Professor George Miley of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is director of its Fusion Studies Lab.

Excess heat generation from our gas-loading LENR power cell has been verified, confirming nuclear reactions provide output energy. While there are similarities between ours and the Rossi E-Cat gas-loaded kW-MW LENR cells that have attracted inter-national attention, there are important differences in nanoparticle composition and cell construction. Our experiment has established a remarkable proof-of-principle power unit at ca. 350 Watts per kg under room temperature when using deuterium (D2) gas (H2 can also be employed) with Pd rich nanoparticles, producing 1479J heat, well above the maximum exothermal ener-gy (690J) possible from all conceivable chemical reactions. Neglecting unlikely chemical reaction contributions, the energy gain is virtually unlimited due to negligible power input with gas loading.

Nextbigfuture covered George Miley's LENR work replicating the Patterson cell late last year.

Figure 1 Gas loading power system. A) Experimental apparatus for pressurizing a stainless tube containing nanoparticles and performing calorimetry on the heat production. B) NPRE undergraduates operating the experiment.

Using sharp changes in the applied pressure. Raw data (Temperature Profile) from an experiment using a gas-loading calorimetry system, the temperature can be increased and operated at a desired level.The slower increase of temperature in two of the three thermocouples was due to poor thermal contact resulting from their location. The 60 psi D2 gas loading caused the temperature increase from ca. 20 oC to ca. 50 oC. The further temperature increase from ca. 50 oC to ca. 140 oC occurred during unloading.

Currently, the state of practice power system is heavy, bulky, not efficient enough, and cannot func-tion properly in some extreme environments. As for Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG)s, the availability of Pu238 is very limited, increasing the cost of Pu238-based RTG. The radioactive product from Pu238 also brings up maintenance difficulties. An opti-mized gas-loaded LENR system of this type can be used in a RTG unit, as shown below.

With LENR based heating source, the used fuel, such as H2 or D2, is virtually inexhaustible. The reaction products are mildly radioactive such as He4 from D-D reaction and the beta decay from possible transmutation, but with their short range, both products can easily be contained, thus lowering down the maintenance cost. The huge energy released in the nuclear reactions makes this an extremely compact, long-lived energy source. This new type of RTG would be durable, and have a very high energy density (ultra-long lifetime). The use of gas loading of the metallic nano-particles allows high temperature operation (analogous to a high temperature gas cooled fission reactor), insuring efficient energy conversion by a traditional thermoelectric pile or advanced Stirling turbines to electricity. This type of RTG will help enable advanced science missions and new capabilities, such as long-life subsurface probes and radioisotope electric propulsion. Such a nuclear power source would completely change NASA’s power systems for space, exploration and colony development as well as in-atmosphere travel. Indeed, such applications have already been explored in conceptual design studies by scientists at NASA Langley assuming Rossi-type cell performance. Their extremely encouraging results support the game-changing advantages of developing this technology. While our present test units are at lab bench power levels (multi 100s watts), scaling up to RTG power levels seems quite feasible using larger amounts of nano-particles and an improved heat management design.

Drawing of a GPHS-RTG that is used for the Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini-Huygens and New Horizons space probes. The goal of the proposed project is de-velopment of an optimized LENR gas-loading system to replace the Pu238 heat source.

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