Scientists develop an energy source to live on the moon for a long time | Sciences

Researchers at Welsh University of Bangor have designed nuclear fuel cells, the size of poppy seeds, that can produce the amount of energy needed to sustain life on the moon for long periods of time. According to Professor Simon Middleberg, it was quite a challenge, “but it was fun”.

NASA’s Artemis 2030 program aims to establish a base on the moon. Expeditions can go from the Moon to Mars or other planets. The moon also contains many valuable resources for modern technology.

The BBC was allowed to look at the laboratory of the Institute for the Nuclear Future at Bangor University in Wales. Researchers there are considered world leaders in the field of fuels. They work with partners such as Rolls-Royce, the UK Space Agency, NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. Professor Middleberg told the BBC that scientists have now developed nuclear fuel cells, the size of poppy seeds, and they will be tested on a large scale in the coming months.

The moon has no atmosphere that can warm the soil, so there are places on the moon where the temperature can drop as low as -248°C. Scientists at Bangor University have been looking for a new way to generate energy and heat so that life on the moon is possible for a long period of time.

Microgenerators

For example, they developed the Trisofuel, a small nuclear fuel cell that could be used to power a Rolls Royce portable nuclear generator. It’s about the size of a small car and “something you could fit on a rocket,” Middleberg says. According to him, it would be like space travel and “will still function safely when put on the moon.” Bangor University also hopes that small generators will also be used on our planet, for example during a power outage due to some kind of disaster.

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The Bangor team is also working on a nuclear missile power system. “This is very powerful,” says study leader Phyllis Makurong. “The thrust it gives the rocket has a very high thrust. This is very important because it enables rockets to reach the most distant planets. According to her, the new technology can cut the travel time to Mars almost in half: from nine months to another four to six months.”

Geopolitical writer and journalist Tim Marshall is convinced that by 2030 there will effectively be lunar bases, “probably one Chinese base and one American-led”. According to Marshall, the major powers cannot afford to miss a train of “what is likely to be a massive breakthrough.” “The Chinese are talking about the year 2028 to lay the first stone. It is probably symbolic to say that they were the first. But by the early 2030s, they will both have rules,” Marshall said.

Megan Vasquez

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