Is KRUSTY the future for nuclear engineers?

by R H | May 12th, 2018

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Is KRUSTY the future for nuclear engineers?

[cap­tion id=”” align=“aligncenter” width=“670”] Two KRUSTY nuclear reac­tors power a set­tle­ment on Mars. From CNET.com.[/caption]

Nuclear power is not doing well. The cheap frack­ing of nat­ural gas and oil, while it is putting a crimp on our ene­mies, is also hurt­ing the nuclear indus­try. Already racked with the high cost of reg­u­la­tion (we’re talk­ing mil­lions per plant), no com­pen­sa­tion for car­bon emis­sion and a lack of pub­lic under­stand­ing about what nuclear power actu­ally is, the nuclear indus­try is fail­ing. Plants are clos­ing around the US, and the work­force is not attract­ing the best and bright­est. As the work­force ages and less plants are avail­able, we have the risk that US nuclear power is going to go extinct. Except for the United States Navy and China, nuclear power seems on the way out the door.

And yet…

NASA con­tin­ues work­ing on a nuclear plant design for Moon and Mars mis­sions, and it recently showed off a 10kW fis­sion reac­tor called the Kilo­power Reac­tor Using Stir­ling Tech­nol­ogy (KRUSTY) that could be placed in space. The reac­tor has a sin­gle con­trol rod, out­puts enough power to be use­ful, has a nat­ural method for poi­son removal, and burns fuel slowly over a 15 year period. That is pretty awesome.

If I was an aspir­ing nuclear engi­neer, or get­ting out of the Navy’s nuclear pro­gram, work­ing on some­thing like this would be my dream job. This is cut­ting edge stuff that could finally get us the Moon base that Pres­i­dent Bush promised us so many years back. If our cur­rent Pres­i­dent pushes NASA in this direc­tion, we could see deep space explo­ration that would actu­ally make Mars habi­ta­tion a real­ity. And, given our nuclear agree­ment with India and pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship with the EU, we could finally start jump­ing ahead of Rus­sia and China in terms of space.

Maybe nuclear power’s future is not meant for Earth, but for the stars.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency. Except maybe NASA, because appar­ently NASA and I both like nuclear power.

Did you donate yet? Take all the money you aren’t spend­ing at Dick’s and give it to Da Tech Guy!

Two KRUSTY nuclear reactors power a settlement on Mars. From CNET.com.

Nuclear power is not doing well. The cheap fracking of natural gas and oil, while it is putting a crimp on our enemies, is also hurting the nuclear industry. Already racked with the high cost of regulation (we’re talking millions per plant), no compensation for carbon emission and a lack of public understanding about what nuclear power actually is, the nuclear industry is failing. Plants are closing around the US, and the workforce is not attracting the best and brightest. As the workforce ages and less plants are available, we have the risk that US nuclear power is going to go extinct. Except for the United States Navy and China, nuclear power seems on the way out the door.

And yet…

NASA continues working on a nuclear plant design for Moon and Mars missions, and it recently showed off a 10kW fission reactor called the Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY) that could be placed in space. The reactor has a single control rod, outputs enough power to be useful, has a natural method for poison removal, and burns fuel slowly over a 15 year period. That is pretty awesome.

If I was an aspiring nuclear engineer, or getting out of the Navy’s nuclear program, working on something like this would be my dream job. This is cutting edge stuff that could finally get us the Moon base that President Bush promised us so many years back. If our current President pushes NASA in this direction, we could see deep space exploration that would actually make Mars habitation a reality. And, given our nuclear agreement with India and previous relationship with the EU, we could finally start jumping ahead of Russia and China in terms of space.

Maybe nuclear power’s future is not meant for Earth, but for the stars.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. Except maybe NASA, because apparently NASA and I both like nuclear power.

Did you donate yet? Take all the money you aren’t spending at Dick’s and give it to Da Tech Guy!

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