Toronto – January 3, 2023 – Nuclear Promise X (NPX) and The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) are excited to announce a collaboration to explore the feasibility of producing isotopes that will be leveraged for Deep Space Exploration applications. This collaboration will see the NPX and CNIC performing a study for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to determine whether Canadian nuclear reactors and research reactors can be used to produce isotopes that are used to power devices used in space exploration.
Currently, radioisotopes support space exploration in a number of ways and are even used to power some of NASA’s best-known spacecraft and devices. All spacecraft and devices need electrical power to function and most use solar panels that harvest energy from the sun, but this solution has its limitations. Missions exploring the distant reaches of the solar system cannot generate enough energy from the distant, dim sun. Shadowed craters, two-week-long lunar nights, and the dusty plains of Mars also prevent dependence on solar energy for long-lived missions. This requires another source of power to explore these extreme cosmic locales. Plutonium-238 (Pu-238), a non-weapons-grade radioactive material that generates large amounts of heat in its radioactive decay, offers another solution and source of power for complex space missions. Pu-238 decay heat is used to generate electricity for spacecraft day or night, dusty or clear, distant or not. These Radioisotope Power Systems (RPSs) have been flown by NASA since the 1960’s to provide reliable power and heat. Some missions that utilized RPSs include the Voyager and Pioneer spacecraft, as well as the Perseverance rover.
This study will explore how nuclear reactors in Canada can be used to irradiate Neptunium-237 (Np-237) into Pu-238 and all costs associated with production, shipment, and extraction of the energy source. The goal of this study is to understand if it is economically feasible for reactors in Canada to add Pu-238 to their existing fleet of isotope production, leveraging the already in-place infrastructure used for medical isotope production.
“NPX always looks to operate in the intersection of Nuclear Energy and Innovation,” said Bharath Nangia, CEO of NPX. “This is going to be a rewarding and creative project, that has the potential to add a lot of value”.
“The CNIC is proud to be a part of this collaboration to better understand how Canada’s nuclear advantage can be leveraged to support operations in the international space industry. Canada is a Tier 1 nuclear nation, and its isotope supply chain is one of the most profound in the world. This feasibility study is aligned with our Isotopes for Hope Campaign launched in 2023 to assert Canada’s global leadership role in the use of isotopes to tackle our great challenges. Together our companies working with NPX hope to demonstrate another example of why radioisotopes are so important to modern society,” said James Scongack, Chair of the CNIC Board.
In this study, CNIC members will help evaluate the feasibility of production and level of capability, with NPX providing the overall Project Management and Engineering function.
The CNIC, and NPX are thrilled to be working together in the interest of humanity’s advancement into outer space.
About the CNIC
The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC) is a coalition of science, healthcare, and nuclear-sector organizations dedicated to maintaining Canada’s position as a global leader in the production of life-saving isotopes. The CNIC raises awareness and advocates for long-term policies that support health-care innovation and will save countless lives for decades to come.
For more information about the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council, please visit http://www.canadianisotopes.ca/
Nuclear Promise X (NPX) is a Nuclear Innovation company that looks to provide innovative products and services to its clients. NPX is on a mission to help make nuclear power faster, safer, and more economically feasible in the battle against climate change. In addition to nuclear consulting, NPX also focuses on involvement in a variety of volunteering efforts to support the communities in which NPX operates.
For more information about Nuclear Promise X, please visit https://www.npxinnovation.ca/