Characterization of Pu-238 heat source granule containment

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The Milliwatt Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) provides power for permissive-action links. These nuclear batteries convert thermal energy to electrical energy using a doped silicon-germanium thermopile. The thermal energy is provided by a heat source made of {sup 238}Pu, in the form of {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} granules. The granules are contained in 3 layers of encapsulation. A thin T-111 liner surrounds the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} granules and protects the second layer (strength member) from exposure to the fuel granules. The T-111 strength member contains the fuel under impact condition. An outer clad of Hastelloy-C protects the T-111 from oxygen embrittlement. The ... continued below

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Richardson Ii, P D; Thronas, D L; Romero, J P; Sandoval, F E; Neuman, A D & Duncan, W S January 1, 2008.

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The Milliwatt Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) provides power for permissive-action links. These nuclear batteries convert thermal energy to electrical energy using a doped silicon-germanium thermopile. The thermal energy is provided by a heat source made of {sup 238}Pu, in the form of {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} granules. The granules are contained in 3 layers of encapsulation. A thin T-111 liner surrounds the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} granules and protects the second layer (strength member) from exposure to the fuel granules. The T-111 strength member contains the fuel under impact condition. An outer clad of Hastelloy-C protects the T-111 from oxygen embrittlement. The T-111 strength member is considered the critical component in this {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} containment system. Any compromise in the strength member is something that needs to be characterized. Consequently, the T-111 strength member is characterized upon it's decommissioning through Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Metallography. SEM is used in Secondary Electron mode to reveal possible grain boundary deformation and/or cracking in the region of the strength member weld. Deformation and cracking uncovered by SEM are further characterized by Metallography. Metallography sections are mounted and polished, observed using optical microscopy, then documented in the form of photomicrographs. SEM may further be used to examine polished Metallography mounts to characterize elements using the SEM mode of Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS). This paper describes the characterization of the metallurgical condition of decommissioned RTG heat sources.

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  • International conference and expo on advanced ceamics and composites ; January 1, 2009 ; Daytona Beach, FL

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  • Report No.: LA-UR-08-07999
  • Report No.: LA-UR-08-7999
  • Grant Number: AC52-06NA25396
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 956663
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc933708

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  • January 1, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 3:34 p.m.

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Richardson Ii, P D; Thronas, D L; Romero, J P; Sandoval, F E; Neuman, A D & Duncan, W S. Characterization of Pu-238 heat source granule containment, article, January 1, 2008; [New Mexico]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc933708/: accessed August 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.