UK scientists generate electricity from rare element to power future space missions
Experts have generated electricity from a rare chemical element for the first time which may mean future space missions can be powered for up to 400 years.
The rare element americium is not found in nature but is a by-product of the decay of plutonium, which itself is produced during the operation of nuclear reactors.
A team of scientists led by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), working with the University of Leicester, have extracted americium from some of the UK’s plutonium stockpile and used the heat generated from this highly radioactive material to generate enough electric current to light up a small lightbulb within a special shielded area in NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria. (More)