Researchers at the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University in the United Kingdom have developed small nuclear fuel cells that could soon power flower-shaped reactors on the moon. These small fuel cells, the size of poppy seeds, are made from rigid tristructural isotropic particle fuel (TRISO).
These fuel cells were specifically designed for use in the Lunar Blooming Micro Space Reactor, a fusion reactor concept developed by Rolls-Royce. This reactor design is a leading candidate for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to build a permanent lunar base by 2030. Each of these small fuel cells could power a reactor. up to 15 years.
To ensure the efficiency and durability of fuel cells, NASA sent them for testing. The tests will simulate the forces experienced during a rocket launch. If successful, these mini-reactors could be a reliable power source for future moon bases. Since sunlight cannot be relied upon during the lunar night, nuclear reactors are the only viable option to provide enough energy to heat homes and critical infrastructure.
The TRISO fuel used in these cells is highly resistant and resistant to corrosion, oxidation, high temperatures and radiation leakage. Its small size also makes it cost-effective for space launch. Although designed for space exploration, these mini-reactors can also serve as temporary power sources in areas affected by natural disasters.
In addition to NASA’s Artemis program, other countries such as India, China and Russia have expressed interest in lunar exploration and the construction of lunar bases. India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft recently landed near the south pole of the moon, while China and Russia are working together on a joint lunar base project. However, Russia suffered a setback when its Luna 25 lander crashed on the moon. Despite this, the development of these small nuclear fuel cells offers promise for the future of lunar exploration and habitation.