Nuclear Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation presents a detailed thermalhydraulics analysis of the unit-cell derivative of the Nuclear Light Bulb (NLB) rocket engine. The NLB engine is a gas core nuclear rocket first proposed in the 1960's by the then-United Aircraft Research Laboratories (UARL); its unit-cell derivative consists of a low-temperature moderator/reflector as well as segmented propellant channels, both proposed with the intent of increasing the keff of the system.

The results of this work can be grouped into two major areas: (1) thermal and neutronics analysis of the engine, and (2) investigation of the feasibility of the engine over a wide range of operating conditions. This work is believed to comprise the first comprehensive analysis of the unit-cell NLB derivative. The unit-cell derivative, although first proposed in the early 1970's, has never been analyzed in detail, and most associated parameters are based on an assumed thermal and neutronics behavior of the engine. No significant work has been performed with regard to the engine since termination of gas core research efforts in 1973, so the feasibility of the concept was never proven.

Document Type




Degree Name

Nuclear Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nuclear Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

A. Sharif Heger

Second Committee Member

Norman F. Roderick

Third Committee Member

Robert D. Busch

Fourth Committee Member

Arsalan Razani