NTS plays key role in space battery project
Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS) is developing bespoke transport solutions to help launch the next generation of atomic batteries for space exploration.
NTS’s team of logistics specialists are drawing on experience from previous transports and other areas of expertise across the organisation, to assess the most safe, secure and cost-effective methods of transporting the revolutionary new batteries.
The batteries, also known as radioisotope power sources, are being developed by National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and University of Leicester, with funding provided by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, and are the first to use Americium-241 as the radioactive source.
The UK has a plentiful supply of Americium-241 at the Sellafield site making it a much more accessible and cost-effective resource than the currently used Plutonium-238.
It is the first time NTS has deployed its expertise in the UK’s space sector and builds on strong working relationships with NNL within the nuclear industry.
Ben Whittard, NTS’s Managing Director for Solutions, said: “NTS’s team of expert engineers are using their years of experience and extensive knowledge of nuclear transport to ensure these revolutionary batteries reach their launch site safely and securely.
“These batteries will be beginning a long journey, over millions of miles, and our job is to ensure they start that journey in perfect condition.
“This is a really exciting time for the industry and we’re proud to play our part in this project.”
Atomic space batteries release heat as the radioactivity within them decays. The heat can be used directly to prevent spacecraft from freezing and it can be converted into electricity to power onboard systems.
The batteries go on working for decades, without need for maintenance over the many years in which a spacecraft could be travelling.