Economical Production of Pu-238 [electronic resource].
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy, 2013.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- Idaho National Laboratory, United States. Department of Energy, and United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- Restrictions on Access:
- Free-to-read Unrestricted online access
- All space exploration missions traveling beyond Jupiter must use radioisotopic power sources for electrical power. The best isotope to power these sources is plutonium-238. The US supply of Pu-238 is almost exhausted and will be gone within the next decade. The Department of Energy has initiated a production program with a $10M allocation from NASA but the cost is estimated at over $100 M to get to production levels. The Center for Space Nuclear Research has conceived of a potentially better process to produce Pu-238 earlier and for significantly less cost. The new process will also produce dramatically less waste. Potentially, the front end costs could be provided by private industry such that the government only had to pay for the product produced. Under a NASA Phase I NIAC grant, the CSNR has evaluated the feasibility of using a low power, commercially available nuclear reactor to produce at least 1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year. The impact on the neutronics of the reactor have been assessed, the amount of Neptunium target material estimated, and the production rates calculated. In addition, the size of the post-irradiation processing facility has been established. In addition, a new method for fabricating the Pu-238 product into the form used for power sources has been identified to reduce the cost of the final product. In short, the concept appears to be viable, can produce the amount of Pu-238 needed to support the NASA missions, can be available within a few years, and will cost significantly less than the current DOE program.
- Report Numbers:
- E 1.99:inl/con-11-23900
- Other Subject(s):
- Published through SciTech Connect.
Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS 2013),Albuquerque NM,02/25/2013,02/28/2013.
Steven D. Howe; Jorge Navarro; Douglas Crawford; Terry Ring.
- Funding Information:
View MARC record | catkey: 14443927