As the title suggests, I am wondering about the feasibility of Nuclear powered pulsejet engines, including Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs). I am not talking about Nuclear pulse rockets, that use nuclear explosions to generate thrust, but pulsejets

Is it possible to build such engine? And if not, what would be the simplest atmospheric nuclear engine that can be feasibly built?

  • $\begingroup$ Given that you have very few constraints and no clear performance criteria, of course it is possible. Will you go build one now? Probably not. Simplest atmospheric nuclear engine is a banana or piece of wood that I drop. If it needs to generate thrust, from a nuclear reaction, then just let an uncontrolled reaction of that form loose. $\endgroup$
    – Abel
    Mar 9 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ You realize that an RTG has the specific power of a dead lead acid battery, right? If you don't need 10 years unrefueled, they aren't anything you want to hold in the air. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Mar 9 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


Could you create a pulse jet that was powered from the heat of a decaying radioisotope? Yes, it would be low-powered and expensive (and with all the difficulties of working with highly radioactive materials). Pulsejets are already inefficient, starting with a very low power source would make it even more difficult. I doubt you could get enough power from such a device to keep it aloft in the atmosphere.

Theoretically you could use the heat from such a decaying pellet to power a putt-putt boat, which is just a simple pulse jet.


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