NEPEC: Modeling and Optimization

Ian Hamilton, Purdue University


A review of the current state of nuclear batteries and their detriments is conducted. A new type of nuclear battery called the NEPEC, based off the thermoelectronic laser energy converter, is proposed. The optimization and analysis of the new nuclear battery is strongly dependent on modeling electron temperatures in nuclear excited plasma. To do so, a method of modeling using the new electron-photon transport mechanisms in MCNP is proposed. The modeling method is carried out and compares well with measured values of electron temperatures found in nuclear excited plasmas used in nuclear pumped lasers. With the electron temperatures of the plasma known, an electrical analysis of the NEPEC is carried out. The mathematical models used are similar to those of plasma thermionic energy converters and the I-V curves of the NEPEC compare well visually and numerically. An optimized NEPEC cell is proposed using a dusty plasma consisting of radioisotope microparticles as a volume source. The dusty plasma provides good interaction with the plasma transducer and will be pursued further. The modeling, optimization, construction, and testing of the NEPEC cell will be continued at Argonne National Lab with the goal of eventual commercialization.




Bean, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Nuclear engineering

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