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Is it feasible to power a reactor using explosives with today's technology? Just using the heat of the explosion to turn a turbine is not the idea I am looking for. Keep the handwavium to a minimum. Bonus points if it's not used at all. I don't have a specific explosive in mind so pick your own.

Please ask for more information if need

Edit I mean high explosives but I don't have a specific high explosive in mind It must run for 1 minute or more not just a pulsed power supply

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    $\begingroup$ Most^^ of the rocket engines today are actually controlled explosions. Necessarily so, you need high energies and power densities. (^^ maybe with the exception of the salami rockets) $\endgroup$ May 11 '20 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ In what way is a combustion engine not what you are looking for? $\endgroup$
    – D.J. Klomp
    May 11 '20 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ What Klomp said. Your car's engine is a reactor powered by gasoline explosions. $\endgroup$ May 11 '20 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean specifically "high explosives" (as opposed to all other combustive substances) going though the process of Detonation (as opposed to Deflagration)? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    May 11 '20 at 17:50
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Yes

Explosive power generators are a real thing. You can use them to generate pulsed power.

The reason you do not see them much is two fold. Utility power needs to be continuous to make sense, so for most uses you generate pulses of power from the continuous power with capacitors and it is much more convenient. And explosives actually have fairly low energy density. That said if you use normal fuel with decent energy density, a detonation is more efficient than combustion generally but this advantage is usually negated by explosive power generation having higher losses.

So explosive power generation is really only practical when you need a large pulse of power with something that you cannot connect to a grid. So maybe rail guns or energy weapons?

Some Wikipedia links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosive-driven_ferroelectric_generator

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_pumped_flux_compression_generator

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosive-driven_ferromagnetic_generator

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    $\begingroup$ IIRC they have seen some use in fields where high instantaneous power use was required. I believe EMP generation and high power laser pulses (like you’d use to kickstart a fusion reaction) were the two main research fields that used them. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    May 11 '20 at 7:41
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Yes, just light them on fire

Most explosive materials (i.e. C4) are energy-dense, so they burn a hot flame for a good long time. If you want to power a reactor with C4, just light the stuff on fire and then use the heat to turn water to steam which powers the turbines. Kind of like a nuclear reactor, except uranium is more energy dense than C4. Or, well, basically any other conventional explosive because it's uranium. Still, if you want, for whatever reason, to power a reactor with explosives, just light them on fire.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect you are missing some vital information. Aren't explosives meant to explode instead of catching fire? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 11 '20 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica, most "explosives" catch on fire. It's a matter of burn rate, expansion of gasses, confinement, etc. A pile of gunpowder for example, just burns. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    May 11 '20 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica to add to what Separatix said. Explosives are really a misnomer for like 90% of explosives - they'll explode, sure, but only under the right circumstances, and the same can be said for cooking oil but most people don't consider that to be an explosive. The OP said to power a reactor using explosives not explosions, and lighting them on fire give more control over the release of energy. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    May 11 '20 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ C4 specifically can be set on fire without exploding, and is sometimes used by soldiers as a firestarter. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    May 12 '20 at 19:48
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Way back when, gunpowder engines were actually considered, as far as the 1600's.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpowder_engine

In modern times, Mythbusters tested it back in 2006, I believe. But they were using internal combustion engine, albeit a small one. They also tested an external combustion engine. None worked properly. They consider the idea busted.

http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2006/10/episode_63_air_cylinder_rocket.html

So not saying it's completely impossible, just that it'd be horribly inefficient and dangerous.

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Set the explosives in a tube leading to one part of the turbine. Once it explodes, the force will go through one part of the turbine, causing it to turn. Note that the turbines and tube would have to be blast-resistant. This does not require handwavium as you can reinforce Kevlar to make it solid. You can also change the shape of the turbines to maximize energy output.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you can make it light and reduce abrasion and friction, it could generate semi-continuous power. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    May 21 '20 at 13:41
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  1. A piston driven engine uses explosions of fuel already. It's the internal combustion cycle.
  2. There's also the Pulse detonation engine that uses a continuous stream of fuel deflegration detonation pulses to produce thrust
  3. Nuclear pulse propulsion: Uses a nuclear detonation to push a sail.
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