An evaluation of alternate production methods for Pu-238 general purpose heat source pellets

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For the past half century, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has used Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG) to power deep space satellites. Fabricating heat sources for RTGs, specifically General Purpose Heat Sources (GPHSs), has remained essentially unchanged since their development in the 1970s. Meanwhile, 30 years of technological advancements have been made in the applicable fields of chemistry, manufacturing and control systems. This paper evaluates alternative processes that could be used to produce Pu 238 fueled heat sources. Specifically, this paper discusses the production of the plutonium-oxide granules, which are the input stream to the ceramic pressing and sintering ... continued below

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Borland, Mark & Frank, Steve June 1, 2009.

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For the past half century, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has used Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG) to power deep space satellites. Fabricating heat sources for RTGs, specifically General Purpose Heat Sources (GPHSs), has remained essentially unchanged since their development in the 1970s. Meanwhile, 30 years of technological advancements have been made in the applicable fields of chemistry, manufacturing and control systems. This paper evaluates alternative processes that could be used to produce Pu 238 fueled heat sources. Specifically, this paper discusses the production of the plutonium-oxide granules, which are the input stream to the ceramic pressing and sintering processes. Alternate chemical processes are compared to current methods to determine if alternative fabrication processes could reduce the hazards, especially the production of respirable fines, while producing an equivalent GPHS product.

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  • Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS-2009),Atlanta, GA,06/14/2009,06/18/2009

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-09-15595
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 974750
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc930293

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

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  • June 1, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Jan. 4, 2017, 2:20 p.m.

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Borland, Mark & Frank, Steve. An evaluation of alternate production methods for Pu-238 general purpose heat source pellets, article, June 1, 2009; [Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc930293/: accessed December 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.