Title: Research in Support of European Radioisotope Power System Development at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Karlsruhe
Citation: ATW-INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR NUCLEAR POWER vol. 65 no. 4 p. 198-205
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC120317
ISSN: 1431-5254 (online)
URI: https://www.kernd.de/kernd-wAssets/docs/fachzeitschrift-atw/2020/atw-2020-04_Freis_et_al_JRC-European-Radioisotpe-Power-System-Development.pdf
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Radioisotope power sources are a key enabling technology for exploratory missions into deep space or to the dark side of planetary bodies, and the European Space Agency is sponsoring the development of Am-241 based radioisotope power systems. The development of a new RPS based on americium is a challenging task. The optimization of the fuel is a key issue, as the oxide of americium has significantly different properties compared to that of Pu-238, both in terms of material engineering and handling. JRC supports the development of a European radioisotope heater unit and radioisotope thermoelectric generator. These activities are focussed on investigating methods to stabilize americium in the oxide form and to establish a safe and reliable pelletizing process. Safety relevant properties and behaviour of americium oxide, as well as the compatibility to the cladding material, are assessed in collaboration with the University of Leicester. Prototype pellets of stabilized americium oxide were synthesized in the Minor Actinide Lab of JRC Karlsruhe, and their stability under a broad range of conditions was shown. A welding methodology for the safety encapsulation was developed and demonstrated.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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