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Title: Radioisotopic heat sources. Revision 1

Abstract

For the radioisotopes with half-lives over a year, only eight appear to be obtainable in the foreseeable future. The fission products, strontium-90, cesium-137, and promethium-147, exist in wastes from reactor processing, diluted with enormous volumes of other elements and salts. Among those isotopes producible by irradiation of special target materials (cobalt-60, uranium-232, plutonium-238, and curium-244) cobalt-60, though easy to produce, requires a special design for the heat source generator because much of its emitted energy is penetrating gamma radiation. Cobalt-60 appears, therefore, to be rather limited in its prospects for use. Plutonium-238 is favored as a heat source because of its long half-line and no need for special shielding. However, its projected high cost, scarcity, and biological hazard encourages the search for a competitive material. When plutonium assumes a significant place as a recycled fuel in thermal reactors for power production, curium-244 can then become available at costs below that for plutonium-238. Curiunm-244 has five times the specific power of plutonium-238 and appears to be just as easy to handle. Promethium-147, although probably on the ''short end'' of the half-life scale, can be considered for some uses as a substitute for plutonium-238. Although the factors of availability, gamma activity, andmore » biological characteristics are unfavorable, the strongly points for uranium-232 (and thorium-228) are extremely high power densities, relatively low expected costs, and unusually long-life nearly constant heat output. The short life of thorium-228 (1.9 years) is a disadvantage. This study indicates that aged promethium-147 should be receiving more serious attention as a heat source.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
General Electric Co., Richland, WA (USA). Hanford Atomic Products Operation
OSTI Identifier:
5712006
Report Number(s):
HW-76323-Rev.1
ON: DE86012094
DOE Contract Number:  
AC06-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: Portions of this document are illegible in microfiche products
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
07 ISOTOPES AND RADIATION SOURCES; RADIOISOTOPE HEAT SOURCES; RADIOISOTOPES; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; FEASIBILITY STUDIES; HEAT SOURCES; ISOTOPES; NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems; 070300* - Isotopic Power Supplies

Citation Formats

Rohrmann, C A. Radioisotopic heat sources. Revision 1. United States: N. p., 1963. Web. doi:10.2172/5712006.
Rohrmann, C A. Radioisotopic heat sources. Revision 1. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/5712006
Rohrmann, C A. 1963. "Radioisotopic heat sources. Revision 1". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/5712006. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/5712006.
@article{osti_5712006,
title = {Radioisotopic heat sources. Revision 1},
author = {Rohrmann, C A},
abstractNote = {For the radioisotopes with half-lives over a year, only eight appear to be obtainable in the foreseeable future. The fission products, strontium-90, cesium-137, and promethium-147, exist in wastes from reactor processing, diluted with enormous volumes of other elements and salts. Among those isotopes producible by irradiation of special target materials (cobalt-60, uranium-232, plutonium-238, and curium-244) cobalt-60, though easy to produce, requires a special design for the heat source generator because much of its emitted energy is penetrating gamma radiation. Cobalt-60 appears, therefore, to be rather limited in its prospects for use. Plutonium-238 is favored as a heat source because of its long half-line and no need for special shielding. However, its projected high cost, scarcity, and biological hazard encourages the search for a competitive material. When plutonium assumes a significant place as a recycled fuel in thermal reactors for power production, curium-244 can then become available at costs below that for plutonium-238. Curiunm-244 has five times the specific power of plutonium-238 and appears to be just as easy to handle. Promethium-147, although probably on the ''short end'' of the half-life scale, can be considered for some uses as a substitute for plutonium-238. Although the factors of availability, gamma activity, and biological characteristics are unfavorable, the strongly points for uranium-232 (and thorium-228) are extremely high power densities, relatively low expected costs, and unusually long-life nearly constant heat output. The short life of thorium-228 (1.9 years) is a disadvantage. This study indicates that aged promethium-147 should be receiving more serious attention as a heat source.},
doi = {10.2172/5712006},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5712006}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1963},
month = {10}
}