Future Space Missions Light Up with Rare Chemical Element, Americium

Future Space Missions Light Up with Rare Chemical Element, Americium
author profile picture

by Jessica Tabinor on

     INDUSTRY NEWS | 4 MIN READ

  • A team of scientists led by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in the UK have generated electricity from a rare chemical element that has been derived from plutonium.

  • The electricity it generates could power future space missions for up to 400 years.

  • Watch the video to find out more.

A team of scientists led by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in the UK have generated electricity from a rare chemical element that has been derived from plutonium, called americium. The electricity it generates could power future space missions for up to 400 years.

The scientists have partnered with Leicester University to extract americium from the UK’s plutonium stockpile. They used the generated heat from this highly radioactive material to generate an electric current which was able to light up a small lightbulb within a special shielded area in NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria.

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has stated that americium could be used to power systems for space missions which would use the heat from americium pellets to power spacecraft heading into deep space or to challenging environments on planet surfaces where other power sources, such as solar panels, no longer function.search morson aerospace jobsA huge benefit of this would be that space missions would be able to continue sending images and data to Earth for longer than would otherwise be possible.

Tim Tinsley, NNL’s account director for the project, said:

“Seeing this lightbulb lit is the culmination of a huge amount of specialist technical work carried out by the teams from NNL and Leicester, working in collaboration with other organisations such as ESA and UK Space Agency.”

“Leicester University’s capability in the development of the radioisotope power systems was complimented by NNL’s expertise in handling and processing americium in our… lab facilities. It is great to think that americium can be used in this way, recycling something that is a waste from one industry into a significant asset in another.”

Watch the video


Keith Stephenson, ESA programme lead added:

“The unrivalled energy density of nuclear power sources enables a whole range of missions that would be otherwise impossible. This successful collaboration between the nuclear and space sectors has created a brand-new capability for Europe and opens the door to a future of ambitious and exciting exploration of our solar system.”

The technical programme to deliver this world first has been running for several years, supported by funding from the government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department through the UK Space Agency and its ongoing participation in European Space Agency (ESA) programmes.

(Image and video sourced via UKNNL)


Ready to progress your career? Search the latest Aerospace and Defence jobs with Morson. Or, if you want to receive the latest industry news, top blogs and thought leadership content, subscribe to our newsletter here.



Cx Jobs

Project Manager (Construction)

An opportunity has arisen for a Project/Site Manager with knowledge and experience within Construction to join the team with our prestigious client BAEJob Description In accordance with the to be agreed "Statement of Work (SoW)", the opportunity presented is for our FM professionals to take on the roles required during the design, construction and acceptance, inclusive of site preparation, service diversion and mobilisation. The key roles include Manage the conversion of customers User Requirements and Project objectives into a suitable RIBA Design Communicate and obtain the required approvals at each stage of the project Support the undertaking of the required commercial and pricing exercises Manage the Professional Services team in the delivery of the Project objectives Manage the interface between the Station representatives and Project Manage and maintain the relationships between the DE&S customer and BAE Systems in relation to the facilities element of the project Monitor and support the required SHE objectives of the construction elements on Station Provide a focal point for BAE Systems regards all things Construction related, for the Station Provide Facilities governance and oversight of the Construction elements of the work Manage the interface of Construction activities and Station operations in support of the project objectives (eg: utilities connections, traffic mgt, security, environmental, quality mgt, FOD Mgt, etc.) Review the RIBA 4 Design process within the Design & Build contract with the Construction Contractor, Technical Advisors team, Clerk of Works and relevant Subject Matter Experts (SME's) Support the required accreditation process of the Security elements of the project Review and advise on the development of the individual Construction & Operational Plans in support of the contract Review and advise on the development of the Handover, Acceptance and Approvals Plan, required in association with the Station, Customer and Maintenance organisation needs. Recognising the restricted nature of the work there is a requirement for the candidate to be eligible to obtain Security Clearance for this role.

Manufacturing Engineer - Assembly and Integration

Our Client based in Stevenage has a requirement for a Manufacturing Engineer within the unit & missile assembly manufacturing facility. The focus will be to ensure that products are built efficiently and to budget.A key member of the Manufacturing Engineering team, you will carry out activities in support of multi-project manufacturing. Compilation and update of Manufacturing Instructions. Design, Commissioning and proving of associated tooling. Support the industrial validation process through the use of FMEAs, FAIs etc. Resolution of technical problems that may arise during the manufacturing process. Route card changes as a result or rework activities. Management of Configuration Control by the embodiment of Design Modifications into the Manufacturing Instructions. Support to the Non Conformance Process using SAP.Skills/QualificationsFormal technical Engineering/Craft Apprenticeship to NVQ Level 3/TR23/TR21. Formal further education certificate to HNC or equivalent certificate. 5 years experience within an engineering discipline. Have the ability to interpret Design Drawings with a view to producing Manufacturing Build Instructions for both Skilled and Semi-Skilled operators. Must be able to work within, and contribute to a team environment. Recognise and understand customer requirements, and respond to them. Understand and work to Company Processes and Procedures. Have the ability to communicate both within the working group and at various levels of the organisation.

Telehandler

We are currently working with a leading M&E contractor that specialise in commercial and industrial projects across the UK.They currently require the services of a Telehandler for their refurbishment project on a leisure centre in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.Candidates are required to have CPCS, PPE and previous experience across commercial and industrial projects.For more information on this role, please contact Scarlet Wilson on 01617071516.

Pipefitter

PIPEFITTERS - NEWCASTLE CITY CENTRE - IMMEDIATE START We are currently working with a key client that specialise in M&E contracts across the UK.They currently require the services of Pipefitters for The Spark Building - a 100,000sq ft new build Grade A office space - in Newcastle City Centre.Candidates are required to have CSCS (Skilled in Pipefitting) and previous experience across Commercial or Industrial projects.For more information, please contact Scarlet Wilson on 01617071516.

Austin Distel Va Opp86kf Q Unsplash

Advertisement