• 7 minutes Get First Access To The Oilprice App!
  • 11 minutes Japanese Refiners Load First Iran Oil Cargo Since U.S. Sanctions
  • 13 minutes Oil prices forecast
  • 17 minutes Renewables in US Set for Fast Growth
  • 12 hours Socialists want to exorcise the O&G demon by 2030
  • 15 hours Chinese FDI in U.S. Drops 90%: America's Clueless Tech Entrepreneurs
  • 6 hours Russian Message: Oil Price War With U.S. Would Be Too Costly
  • 18 hours Good Marriage And Bad Divorce: Germany's Merkel Wants Britain and EU To Divorce On Good Terms
  • 1 day Cheermongering about O&G in 2019
  • 8 hours Oil CEOs See Market Rebalancing as Outlook Blurred by China Risk
  • 2 days Duterte's New Madness: Philippine Senators Oppose President's Push To Lower Criminal Age To 9
  • 2 days North Sea Rocks Could Store Months Of Renewable Energy
  • 22 hours *Happy Dance* ... U.S. Shale Oil Slowdown
  • 12 hours WSJ: Gun Ownership on Rise in Europe After Terror Attacks, Sexual Assaults
  • 1 day Oceans "Under Fire" Of Plastic Trash
Chaos Erupts In Venezuela As Trump Backs New President

Chaos Erupts In Venezuela As Trump Backs New President

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans…

BP Bets Big On The Caspian Sea

BP Bets Big On The Caspian Sea

British Petroleum’s wells are targeting…

James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

More Info

ESA Plans to Use Nuclear Waste Batteries to Power Deep Space Exploration

The US used nuclear waste to power their Voyager probes, launched in the 1970s; the Cassini-Huygens probe, launched in 1997; and just recently the Mars Curiosity rover.

The idea is that nuclear waste gives of heat for many years, and that heat can be used to keep a craft warm in the depths of space, so that it doesn’t freeze up, and also to produce electricity to power on-board systems.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is very interested in this technology as a means to power its long-range spacecraft. NASA generally uses plutonium-238, however the ESA are looking for an alternative, as plutonium-238 is only available from the US or from Russia.

The British Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria reprocesses plutonium, uranium, and other fissionable materials from nuclear waste, and is currently working to produce americium-241 from the countries spent nuclear fuel, a nuclear isotope which the ESA believes will work as a suitable alternative.

Each nuclear battery would only need about 5kg of americium-241, which means that with current stockpiles the British nuclear industry could supply the ESA with all of its needs for the foreseeable future.

The batteries could also be used for long-term undersea probes, and in buoys designed to monitor ocean conditions.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • andrew on November 30 2014 said:
    This can power local space craft for decades and has the potential to power the earth for a period of time into the future ,,,Recycled waste

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News