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New poppy seed-sized fuel pellets could power nuclear reactors on the moon


An artist’s impression of the Space Flower Moon Micro Reactor that could help power future moon missions. Scientists in the U.K. have just developed a potential nuclear fuel cell for this reactor. (Image credit: Rolls-Royce)

Scientists in the U.K. have created mini, seed-sized nuclear fuel cells that could power futuristic flower-shaped reactors on the moon as soon as 2030.

The tiny new fuel cells, developed by researchers at the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University in Wales, are roughly the size of poppy seeds, which are around 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) across. The mini pellets are a type of tri-structural isotropic particle (TRISO) fuel, which is made from uranium, carbon and oxygen surrounded by a hard, ceramic-like shell. The cells are much more durable and efficient than traditional nuclear fuels, which makes them perfect for space exploration.

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