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Safe radioisotope thermoelectric generators and heat sources for space applications

By R.C. O’Brien, R.M. Ambrosi, N.P. Bannister, S.D. Howe and Helen V. Atkinson

Abstract

Full text of this item is not currently available on the LRA. \ud The final published version is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00223115, Doi: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2008.04.009.This article has an erratum published as Journal of Nuclear Materials, 2009, 389 (3), pp. 504-506. The archived record of the original erratum can be found at https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/8813.Several isotopes are examined as alternatives to 238Pu that is traditionally used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and heating units (RHUs). The radioisotopes discussed include 241Am, 208Po, 210Po, and 90Sr. The aim of this study is to facilitate the design of an RTG with a minimal radiation dose rate and mass including any required shielding. Applications of interest are primarily space and planetary exploration. In order to evaluate the properties of the alternative radioisotopes a Monte Carlo model was developed to examine the radiation protection aspect of the study. The thermodynamics of the power generation process is examined and possible materials for the housing and encapsulation of the radioisotopes are proposed. In this study we also present a historical review of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and the thermoelectric conversion mechanism in order to provide a direct comparison with the performance of our proposed alternative isotope systems

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2008.04.009
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8793
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