Zeno looks to SHINE for Sr-90 to fuel its radioisotope power systems

June 18, 2024, 3:01PMNuclear News

Wisconsin-based fusion technology company SHINE Technologies announced today the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Zeno Power to develop a nuclear materials supply chain for its commercially available radioisotope power systems (RPSs). Under the MOU, SHINE plans to provide Zeno with strontium-90 to power its RPSs, which are capable of providing continuous power in harsh environments.

According to SHINE, the partnership is a significant step forward in the company’s Phase 3 initiative to recycle and reuse spent nuclear fuel. SHINE has previously announced partnerships with Deep Isolation and Orano as the company looks to build an industry coalition to advance nuclear fuel recycling.

Sr-90 fuel: As a major contributor of heat and radioactivity in SNF, Sr-90 is considered a good candidate for reuse as a fuel source for RPSs. The radioisotope is also more available than the plutonium traditionally used in RPSs developed for government use.

Given its relative abundance, Sr-90 has been used in RPSs before, but historically these systems were heavy, constraining their use to limited terrestrial applications. Zeno claims a novel RPS design that increases the specific power of Sr-90 heat sources, enabling broad use of its RPSs in space and terrestrially.

Zeno demonstrated its first Sr-90 heat source at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in late 2023 and has over $60 million in contracts with NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Space Force. According to SHINE, this new partnership could supply Zeno with Sr-90 fuel for decades into the future to power missions from sea to space.

They said it: “Our partnership with Zeno Power marks a key milestone in our mission to develop more sustainable power sources,” said Ross Radel, SHINE’s chief technology officer. “Spent nuclear fuel recycling is an environmentally sustainable approach that provides critical isotopes domestically. These isotopes can transition used nuclear fuel into a clean energy source for the future. We’re proud to pioneer this approach that will help advance scientific missions and mitigate hurdles to the broader long-term adoption of nuclear energy.”

Harsh Desai, chief commercialization officer at Zeno, added, “We are thrilled to be working with SHINE to expand our fuel supply chain efforts and help recycle materials considered waste into sustainable, reliable power sources. Our team is committed to enabling critical operations from the seabed to the lunar surface, and SHINE’s supply of Sr-90 will help us do just that—on an even greater scale.”

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