Advanced Subcritical Assistance Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator: An Imperative Solution for the Future of NASA Exploration

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F. J. Arias (2011), JBIS, 64, 314-318

Refcode: 2011.64.314
Keywords: Thermoelectric Radioisotope Generator, MMRTG, ASRG, interplanetary, NASA, exploration, Pu-238 supply

A new generation of radioisotope thermoelectrical generator is proposed for very long space exploration missions. The Advanced Subcritical Assistance Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (ASA-RTG) amplify the power from natural decay of pu-238 by a small subcritical multiplication produced from the small neutron background generated from (α, n) reactions between the α particles from Pu-238 and beryllium, lithium or other low-Z isotope, extracting the maximum advantage and performance from the precious α disintegration, and then of the very scarce pu-238. The process is self controlled by the natural decay of Pu-238 with the progressive reduction of the power output (RTG) and additionally and simultaneously compensate by the natural decay of a neutronic poisson which increase simultaneously the subcritical multiplication resulting in a contrary effect, i.e., causing an increase in the power.

ASA-RTG is not in conflict with previous RTG, and could fit within the type of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator developed for NASA space missions as the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) and the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG).

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