Nuclear power

From Marspedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nuclear Danger Icon

Nuclear Power is a method of energy generation. It uses nuclear fuel to produce heat, which is usually transformed into electricity. Nuclear power is considered the preferred energy source for most plans for medium- to long-term human expeditions to Mars.

Usage On Mars

The generation of electricity from nuclear fuel does not depend on weather conditions so would be useful for maintaining a reliable source of power on Mars. However, due to the unclear availability of radioactive resources on Mars and the difficulty in preparing the fuel (the nuclear enrichment process) any nuclear fuel will have to be brought from Earth for the foreseeable future. This would significantly prevent the settlement from being independent from Earth.

Molten Salt Energy Storage

Molten Salt Energy Storage [1] is a process used in Concentrated Solar Thermal [2] that allows storing large amounts of heat energy in the form of high temperature molten salt. This reserve can be tapped for direct use in colony heating, Evaporative water purification, and Rodriguez Wells[3].

Rodriguez Well (RODWELL)

RODWELLS Are a form of well melted into Antarctic Ice to provide a constant source of water for use on a base, this lowers a heat source deep into the ice melting an area of ice that is partially pumped out as the ice cave grows [3]

Nuclear reactor

In a nuclear reactor, heat caused by the radioactivity boils water to steam. Turbines are driven by the steam's pressure, spinning a dynamo to generate electric energy.

Nuclear heating

Heating greenhouses and other buildings may be done indirectly by the heat of the nuclear fission. The heat can be transported in pipes from the reactor to the buildings. Heat exchangers avoid nuclear pollution of the buildings.

Types of Nuclear Generation


Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (abbr.: RTG) are simple devices. They produce a heat difference, transformed by a thermocouple to electrical energy. The maintenance effort is low. However, RTGs do not provide enough power for a base.

Nuclear Heatpipe Reactor

Small to Medium Heatpipe Reactors offer stable, safe power that requires no outside support system or personnel and is immune to meltdown, it can be scaled from .5kw to 50mw for remote bases, small cities, and forward operating bases here on Earth, these reactors could power a Colony or a Spaceship for between 5 and 40 years with no maintenance, with no in-situ resources needed. [4] [5]

Open issues

  • What sort of nuclear fuel is needed?
  • How long can the described nuclear power stations work without replenishment of nuclear fuel?
  • What is known about nuclear resources on Mars?


  1. Molten Salt Energy Storage, Solarreserve MOLTEN SALT ENERGY STORAGE ,
  2. Concentrated Solar Thermal, BY ROBERT DIETERICH Concentrated Solar Thermal ,
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rodwell, Raul Rodriguez South Pole Station - Rodwells ,
  4. Idaho National Labs, Dr. K.P Annath, Dr. Michael Kellar, Mr. James Werner, Dr James Sterbentz Portable Special Purpose Nuclear Reactor (2 MW) for Remote Operating Bases and Microgrids ,, May 2017.
  5. NASA Kilopower Project, Dr. David Poston Small Nuclear Reactors for Mars - 21st Annual Mars Society Convention ,, Sep 2018.

External links

  • None