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Page added on May 5, 2019

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UK Nuclear Lab Achieves Americum-Generated Power

Alternative Energy

The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and University of Leicester have generated usable electricity from the chemical element americium in what it believes to be a global first. The achievement is seen as a step towards potential use of americium in so-called space batteries, which may mean future space missions can be powered for up to 400 years.

Americium is an element not found in nature, but which is produced by the radioactive decay of plutonium — which itself is produced during the operation of nuclear reactors. A team led by NNL has extracted americium from some of the UK’s plutonium stocks, and used the heat generated from this highly radioactive material to generate electric current, which in turn lit up a small light bulb — all within a specially shielded area of NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria, England.

The breakthrough means potential use of americium in radioisotope power systems for missions which would use the heat from americium pellets to power spacecraft heading into deep space or to challenging environments on planet surfaces where other power sources, such as solar panels, no longer function. In this way, NNL said, such space missions can carry on sending back vital images and data to Earth for many decades, far longer than would otherwise be possible.
Tim Tinsley, NNL’s account director for the work, calls it “recycling something that is a waste from one industry into a significant asset in another,” though he adds that the plutonium is not exactly being recycled. “We ‘clean’ the americium from it, which would have been a waste. With sufficient applications, all of the UK plutonium could be ‘cleaned’ of the americium. The returned plutonium is in a better condition, ready for further storage or reuse as nuclear fuel.”


9 Comments on "UK Nuclear Lab Achieves Americum-Generated Power"

  1. Cloggie on Sun, 5th May 2019 12:40 pm 

    Special relationship latest 😉



  2. Anonymouse on Sun, 5th May 2019 4:30 pm 

    This is not news, especially to Limey Jews like cloggJude here.

    Special relationship to Yahweh


    Amerika has been Americuming on britain since 1945. And based on all the Americum that is constantly on the UK’s face, they seem to like it that way.

  3. JuanP on Sun, 5th May 2019 5:29 pm 

    Shut up annoy, go back to Xbox live please

  4. OBVIOUS DAVYSKUM ID THEFT on Sun, 5th May 2019 5:35 pm 

    JuanP on Sun, 5th May 2019 5:29 pm

    Shut up annoy, go back to Xbox live please

  5. Davy is retarded on Sun, 5th May 2019 6:08 pm 

    Davy on Sun, 5th May 2019 5:29 pm

  6. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 5th May 2019 8:55 pm 

    Presently they make the
    space batteries from plutonium-238.
    And that works great. why re-invent
    the wheel, right?

  7. I AM THE MOB on Sun, 5th May 2019 9:00 pm 

    “If you want to be a leader find a parade and step out in front.”

    – Mao Tse Tung

  8. anon on Mon, 6th May 2019 2:07 am 

    fluff piece, we’ve had RTG’s for what, 60 years? maybe longer? usually theyre powered by Pu, which is a lot easier to get than Am. Maybe that 241Am is easier to extract during fuel reprocessing than 240Pu specifically, which is sometimes preferred to undifferentiated isotopes of Pu, but, really, just the average mix of Pu isotopes (almost all 239) is perfectly fine in an RTG. The quantities involved are nowhere near critical and the occasionall subcritical levels of fission are easily predictable and can be engineered for in the device’s design. so, an Am powered RTG sounds kind of… pointless.. unless theyre really talking about direct beta decay conversion to electricity. There, 241Am doesnt sound like the best candidate for the job, seeing how heavy it is and seeing, and in any case that would imply the author of the article is even more clueless to be tlaking about using decay heat for power when it would be using beta emissions directly for electric power.
    either way the article seems to say ‘its been a slow day today’

  9. anon on Mon, 6th May 2019 5:52 am 

    whoops i meant 238Pu not 240Pu… otherwise all the same (240Pu has a high cross-section for spontaneous fission, bad for bomb making, but just a little hotter for RTG fuel)

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