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This short mid-1960s film from Atomics International, a division of North American Aviation, Inc., gives viewers a look at the July 1964 power conversion subsystem development status of The Mercury-Rankine program (CRU). This was part of the Systems Nuclear Auxiliary POWER (SNAP) program, a program of experimental radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and space nuclear reactors flown during the 1960s by NASA. SNAP-1 was a test platform that was never deployed, using cerium-144 in a Rankine cycle with mercury as the heat transfer fluid. Operated successfully for 2500 hours. The film opens with a scientist working in a laboratory on a nuclear reactor designed for space flight. Animation is used to show how mercury is used inside a Mercury Rankine power conversion subsystem (01:09). Viewers see a building of Thompson Ramo Woolridge, Inc. (01:54), where the CRU boiler and rotating unit is made. Illustrations are used to show the structure of the device. Viewers see a drawing of a CRU with its mercury pump. A hand holds a centrifugal pump for the device. The film then shows a modified CRU unit designated as CRU-IV-M, then the CRU-V. The parts of the CRU-IV-M are laid out on a table. A man monitors a computer that processes data from development testing (05:12). Another man runs a machine to fabricate the body of the CRU-V design (05:58). A CRU-V is covered with what appears to be cotton during an endurance test. Men watch gauges during a 1964 CRU demonstrated performance test. The film presents a table with the data results from testing the CRU-IV-M and CRU-V (07:40). Men work on a new test cell for CRU models (08:53). In some type of monitoring room, a man records the results from tests on CRUs onto his clipboard (09:48), concluding the film. A mercury vapour turbine is a form of heat engine that uses mercury as the working fluid of its thermal cycle. A mercury vapour turbine has been used in conjunction with a steam turbine for generating electricity. This example of combined cycle generation was not widely adopted, because of high capital cost and the obvious toxic hazard if the mercury leaked into the environment. The mercury cycle offers an efficiency increase compared to a steam-only cycle because energy can be injected into the Rankine cycle at higher temperature. Metallurgical developments have allowed steam-only plants to increase in efficiency over time, making the mercury vapour turbine obsolete. Modern combined cycle power plant generating stations operate at 61% efficiency, and with none of the safety issues inherent to a binary mercury Rankine cycle steam power plant. The SNAP Experimental Reactor (SER) was the first reactor to be built by the specifications established for space satellite applications. The SER used uranium zirconium hydride as the fuel and eutectic sodium-potassium alloy (NaK) as the coolant and operated at approximately 50 kW thermal. The system did not have a power conversion but used a secondary heat air blast system to dissipate the heat to the atmosphere. The SER used a similar reactor reflector moderator device as the SNAP-10A but with only one reflector. Criticality was achieved in September 1959 with final shutdown completed in December 1961. The project was considered a success. It gave continued confidence in the development of the SNAP Program and it also led to in depth research and component development. TRW Inc. was an American corporation involved in a variety of businesses, mainly aerospace, automotive, and credit reporting. It was a pioneer in multiple fields including electronic components, integrated circuits, computers, software and systems engineering. TRW built many spacecraft, including Pioneer 1, Pioneer 10, and several space-based observatories. It was #57 on the 1986 Fortune 500 list, and had 122,258 employees. In 1958 the company was called Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, after three prominent leaders. This was later shortened to TRW. We encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment! See something interesting? Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference." This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
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