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A nuclear thermal rocket for manned exploration of Mars, the Moon, or space colonization.

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Innovations in Fuel Form Factor

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Howe Industries has developed a novel fuel form factor for use in nuclear thermal rockets. Circular graphite discs are scored with curved grooves that traverse the plate radially before converging on a central hole. When these graphite plates are stacked together, the grooves form radial flow channels, and the central holes form a flow path for the exhaust.

These fuel elements offer easy access to the interior surfaces of the flow channels, allowing for refractory carbide coatings to be evenly applied through chemical vapor deposition. Newer methods are also possible, such as graphite coated in zirconium foil or paint which is carburized in a furnace. Testing of sample manufactured elements has proven the efficacy of this approach in achieving even coating thickness.

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