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Recycling Nuclear Waste

Nuclear energy is often the only hope for power generation in countries without large deposits of fossil fuels.

However, the presence of nuclear power plants compromise the security of that country, and most struggle to adequately dispose of the waste materials.

Cumbria based British Sellafield has come up with an idea whereby nuclear waste is the key element.

Nuclear waste in British plants mostly contains americium-241, and the organization plans to use this nuclear waste element to power long range spacecraft.

This method of using nuclear waste is based on a design used in the Voyager probes, launched in 1977.  Even the popular Mars rover uses the same design.

Recycling Nuclear Waste

Generally nuclear material gives off heat for many years, and it is this heat that can be used to keep a spacecraft or any deep space vehicles warm in freezing places, or the heat can be converted into power to run on-board devices.

Using fresh nuclear materials for this is absurd as nuclear waste produces heat too and is a burden for government agencies to manage here on Earth. The European Space Agency is happy to use americium-241 instead of plutonium-238 as its availability is very limited.

Nuclear batteries can be made from 5KG of such waste material, batteries thus manufactured can be used for supporting missions and for other exploration projects.

These batteries can also be used for other purposes such as sea probing and powering sensors which monitor sea parameters. Many developing countries such as India and China are showing great interest in using these batteries in various projects.

This proves the market for long lasting nuclear batteries which are made of nuclear waste is certainly there.

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