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Lithium fission saltwater rocket concept


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I found an interesting idea about a propulsion system that would be based on the fission of lithium-6 (exothermic reaction that is only possible with high-energy neutrons).

As I understood, it would use water or heavy water with dissolved lithium hydroxide. Such water would be irradiated with fast neutrons generated in a supercritical plutonium nuclear reactor, a non-aneutronic nuclear fusion reactor, or a spallation system.

The water would be heated by the reactor like in a classic saltwater nuclear rocket, but the fission of lithium-6 would generate much more energy.
This translates into an ISP higher than that of conventional chemical and nuclear rockets, and a pushing force superior to that of ionic rockets.

The main problems are the neutron source (it must be big) and, in case of use a supercritical nuclear reactor, the risk of core meltdown (typical of nuclear rockets) or even a nuclear explosion.

It could be interesting to see an addon based on this idea.


Edited by Angeltxilon
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40 minutes ago, Angeltxilon said:

The main problems are the neutron source (it must be big), and the risk of core meltdown (typical of nuclear rockets) or even a nuclear explosion

That, and proliferation issues. Lithium-6 deuteride is what separates professional “dry” thermonukes from small tritium-boosted weapons... and immobile liquid deuterium-based absolute units:


Edited by DDE
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