Modern computational technologies for justification the characteristics of nuclear power propulsion systems in design works of creation a new generation of thermionic space nuclear power unit

Aerospace propulsion engineering


Polous M. A., Alekseev P. A.*, Ekhlakov I. A.

Joint Stock Company "State Scientific Centre of the Russian Federation – Institute for Physics and Power Engineering named after A. I. Leypunsky", 1, sq. Bondarenko, Obninsk, 249033, Russia



The purpose of current research work is to examine the modern mathematical methods used in the calculation of new generation thermionic space nuclear power unit.
The calculation of characteristics of space nuclear power unit is divided into a set of problems, three of which are examined in current research work. The problem of three-dimensional numerical calculation of the electrical and thermal characteristics of the electricity generating channel is solved with the help of modified software suit Comsol with numerical solver developed by the authors which makes it possible to simulate the thermionic problem in three-dimensional formulation using the experimental current-voltage characteristic of the thermionic converter. The problem of optimization of the reactor core structure is solved with the use of the simulation model to calculate the neutron-physical characteristics of the reactor and techniques of genetic algorithm to optimize the structure of the core. And the problem of optimization of the weight and size characteristics for the radiation shield is solved with the use of artificial bee colony algorithm for finding the optimal profile of the radiation shield.
Application of considered modern mathematical tools enables to solve the problem of calculating the characteristics of space nuclear power unit quickly and effectively.
Conducted research is the first step to the creation of the modern computational code for calculation of the characteristics of space nuclear power unit in solving large-scale space challenges of today.


thermionic converter, electricity generating channel, three-dimensional numerical calculation, optimization of radiation shield, bee colony optimization, optimization of nuclear reactor, genetic algorithm


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