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PhiNotPi's avatar

What are some sources of unconventional nuclear power?

Asked by PhiNotPi (11636 points ) August 31st, 2012

Nuclear power is typically divided into two categories: fission and fusion. Fission almost always involves the splitting of certain uranium isotopes (or other elements of similar size, such as plutonium). Fusion almost always involved deuterium or other forms of hydrogen fusing into helium.

Are there any other potential forms of nuclear power, even if they may be less efficient? Is there any form of nuclear power that involves intermediate-range elements (much heavier than hydrogen, but much lighter than uranium)? Are there known ways to extract nuclear power from any radioactive source, by using the radiation given off?

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6 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

edited by me.

ragingloli's avatar

There is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator
It was used on the Cassini-Huygens Space Probe.

wonderingwhy's avatar

The LLNL was/is working on a combination of the two. High-efficiency fission from neutrons generated through fusion which would leave little waste and I believe can use of existing nuclear waste in part of the process.

Here we go… LLNL LIFE Project link; Wiki link.

Here’s a pretty interesting paper (.pdf) that discusses the reduction and radiological curve of the waste through the LIFE system.

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