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LANL rounds out top five science stories

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Second of a two-part series

DOE, NASA team demonstrates simple fission reactor prototype (DUFF)

A team of researchers recently demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site’s Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas. The Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions experiment produced 24 watts of electricity. Engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC conducted the experiment.

Heat-pipe technology — a sealed tube with an internal fluid that can efficiently transfer heat produced by a reactor with no moving parts — was invented at Los Alamos in 1963. Using heat pipes in tandem with the simple, closed-loop technology of Stirling engines allowed for creation of a reliable electric power supply that can be adapted for space applications.


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