Scientists in the UK have developed mini, seed-sized nuclear fuel cells that could power future flower-shaped reactors. the moon 2030 soon.
The tiny new fuel cells, developed by researchers at the Atomic Futures Institute at Bangor University in Wales, are roughly the size of a poppy seed of 0.04 inches (1 millimeter). The mini-particles are a type of tri-structural isotropic particle (TRISO) fuel that is surrounded by a hard, ceramic-like shell made of uranium, carbon and oxygen. The cells are more durable and efficient than traditional nuclear fuels, which makes them ideal Space exploration.
The fuel cells are designed to power the Space Flower Moon microreactor, which is the size of a conceptual car Fusion A nuclear reactor designed by Rolls-Royce. Funds were allocated for the nuclear reactor Secured in early MarchAnd as part of the design is a leading candidate to power future lunar platforms NASA’s Artemis projectIt aims to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2030. Researchers estimate that one of the durable particles could power a nuclear reactor for up to 15 years.
The fuel cells have now been sent to NASA for testing, which will simulate how nuclear particles handle the simulated forces of a rocket launch and whether they are as efficient as the researchers claim. BBC.
Related: How long does it take to walk around the moon?
Reliable power sources will be critical for future lunar bases, as solar power cannot be relied upon at night when temperatures drop below minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 129 degrees Celsius).
„On the Moon and other planetary bodies that have both day and night, we can no longer rely on the Sun for energy, so we need to design small micro-reactor-like systems to sustain life,” project researcher Simon MiddleburgBangor University nuclear materials expert, A Report.
Nuclear reactors are the only current viable option for generating a reliable energy source on such a short time scale, Middleburg said. However, „the fuel needs to be very robust and able to sustain launch forces and then be reliable for many years,” he added.
TRISO fuel shells withstand corrosion, oxidation and high temperatures, preventing leakage of radiation from the fuel, all of which could arise in space. US Department of Energy.
In addition to being strong enough to survive a trip to the Moon, the main attraction of TRISO propellants is that they are so small that they are very cost-effective to launch into space.
Although the mini reactor was primarily designed for space exploration, the researchers said it could provide a reliable temporary source of energy in areas affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical storms.
NASA isn’t the only agency with eyes on the moon. On August 23, India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed near the moon’s south pole in search of resources for a future lunar base. In 2021, China and Russia announced plans to build a joint base on the moon, although the plan suffered a recent setback after Russia’s Luna 25 lander crashed on the moon last month.
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