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Plutonium Fuel Pellet Fabrication by M Brockman COFE4

Plutonium Fuel Pellet Fabrication by M Brockman COFE4

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Recent deep space missions utilize the thermal output of the radioisotope plutonium-238 as the fuel in the thermal to electrical power system. Since the application of plutonium in its elemental state has several disadvantages, the fuel employed in these deep space power systems is typically in the oxide form such as plutonium-238 dioxide
(238PuO2). As an oxide, the processing of the plutonium dioxide into fuel pellets is performed via “classical” ceramic processing unit operations such as sieving of the powder, pressing, sintering, etc. Modeling of these unit operations can be beneficial in the understanding and control of processing parameters with the goal of further enhancing the desiredcharacteristics of the 238PuO2 fuel pellets.