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Title page for ETD etd-03102011-105341

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Turba, Ronald David
Author's Email Address ronald.d.turba@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03102011-105341
Title Design of a Nuclear Propulsion System for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Alvin Strauss Committee Member
George Cook Committee Member
  • Propulsion
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclear Power
  • Nuclear
  • UAV
Date of Defense 2011-03-18
Availability unrestricted
Much of today’s research in military assets is focused on remotely controlled designs and alternative energy. In this thesis, a modified design for a current UAV used by the military is discussed. Four distinct designs for propulsion systems are detailed to determine which is best suited to the RQ-4A Global Hawk for a one year flight time. There are examples of a UAV using each propulsion system so that the benefits can be compared. The nuclear propulsion system is shown to be superior to the other similar designs. Complete design details and CAD drawings of the new engine showcase how a nuclear propulsion system can be implemented. To complete the design details, a CFD model of the engine itself is completed to determine initial results of the thrust capabilities. When compared to the current gas turbine engine used in the Global Hawk, the results of the CFD model show that the nuclear propulsion system has a higher thrust-to-weight ratio. All aspects of using a nuclear propulsion system in a military aircraft are detailed to show benefits and consequences associated with using such a system.
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