Skip to comments.ORNL achieves milestone with plutonium-238 sample
Posted on 12/25/2015 12:08:10 PM PST by BenLurkin
With the production of 50 grams of plutonium-238, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have restored a U.S. capability dormant for nearly 30 years and set the course to provide power for NASA and other missions.
Researchers will analyze the sample for chemical purity and plutonium-238 content, then verify production efficiency models and determine whether adjustments need to be made before scaling up the process.
There are currently only 35 kilograms, or about 77 pounds, of plutonium-238 set aside for NASA missions, and only about half of this supply meets power specifications. This is only sufficient to power two to three proposed NASA missions through the middle of the 2020s. Fortunately, the additional material that will be produced at ORNL can be blended with the existing portion that doesn't meet specifications to extend the usable inventory.
The next NASA mission planning to use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator is the Mars 2020 rover, due to be launched in July 2020. The mission seeks signs of life on Mars and will test technology for human exploration and gather samples of rocks and soil that could be returned to Earth
(Excerpt) Read more at phys.org ...
Oh, wonderful, we are making H Bombs again. Let’s see, thirty five kilos of fusion fuel should equil about two or three hundred million souls. If used on cities. Less than a ounce per kiloton yield.
Why at that rate, we may even have as much as Iran.
PU-238 is used as a heat/energy source in deep space probes and satellites. 239 is the weapons material.
The project is being headed by the appropriately named Bob Wham ...
The H in H-bombs stands for Hydrogen, not plutonium.
click in either of the two places where it says phys.org
H bombs need plutonium for ignition.
Oh dang, your right!
Never mind... LOL
FYI to all:
Pu238 is a fascinating Isotope.
In theory you could build a bomb out of it but it would melt WAY before it got anywhere near critical mass.
It has a 1/2 life of 88 years and just sits there and generates loads of heat.
A few grams of it will actually glow orange hot.
So far, it is the only way of generating power farther than Mars from the Sun
When Seaborg originally created it, the hope was it would rapid decay to U235.
Very expensive to create and it takes a long time but mandatory for continued NASA missions.
Sounds like something Edgar K. B. Montrose would love to get ahold of.
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