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Can 241 Am be shielded with a layer of 238 Pu?

December 27, 2015

 

I asked this question on unmannedspaceflight.com about 4 years ago

The problem is of course the shortage of 238 Pu so perhaps we could blend or cut 238 Pu with 241 Am, this is an unknown alloy with unknown properties.

241 Am gives off much more gamma rays then 238 Pu and this requires much more shielding at a cost to spacecraft weight budgets so my alternative idea was a RTG with an 241 Am core and a cladding of 238 Pu! This would shield the 241 Am gamma rays and the 238 Pu would add to the mission design power loss curves do to decay of both.

(A)(1) would 241Am and 238Pu chemically bond or form alloys at their interfaces in the cladding scenario?(galvanic erosion)And do we know 241 Am and 238 Pu Anodic index?

(A)(2) How would 238 Pu react to gamma ray loads from the 241 Am?

(A)(3) the core could be a blend of 241 Am and 238 Pu with 238 Pu cladding to reduce gamma ray and  compatibility at the cladding interface.

 

International cooperation, (B)(1) the EU separates its spent nuclear fuel while the US does not, so the supply of 241Am could come from them.(B)(2)We in the US  have reestablished 238 Pu production and we could share both.(B)(3) we have abandoned our Stirling RTG effort while the EU/ESA are contemplating doing such an effort, we could also join efforts here to.

 

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