Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

NRE 8011/8012 and MP 6011/6012 Seminar

Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Programs


Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY)


Mr. Jesson Hutchinson


Critical Experiments Team, Los Alamos National Laboratory


Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Steve Biegalski


Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY) is a demonstration designed as a proof of concept for NASA’s Kilopower program, which was funded in order to create a small reactor for various space applications such as providing power for a colony on Mars or the moon and eventually as a possible option for powering rockets on deep space missions. KRUSTY was tested at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center (NCERC) located at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) from November 2017, through March 2018. The experimental campaign was conducted in four phases: component critical experiments, cold critical experiments, warm critical runs, and high temperature demonstration. Over 60 critical configurations were measured on the Comet critical assembly machine culminating in a 28 hour demonstration at 800 degrees Celsius. KRUSTY used heat pipes to transfer energy from fission to Stirling engines and is similar to many modern micro-reactor designs.


Jesson Hutchinson graduated with a BS in 2004 and MS in 2005 in Nuclear Engineering at Ga Tech. He has worked for the critical experiments team at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2006. His focus includes critical and subcritical experiments, and he has conducted hundreds of critical and subcritical experiments since 2007 at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). His work focuses on performing benchmarks, criticality safety, methods development, experiment design, and experiment execution. He was the lead for the CNEC/CVT university in which 40 experiments were conducted by 9 universities in 5 years.


Meet the speaker