Zeno selects Westinghouse to fabricate heat sources for radioisotope power systems

26 January 2024

US-based Zeno Power has selected Westinghouse Electric Company to process radioisotopes to fabricate its heat sources for its radioisotope power systems (RPSs). Zeno is working to bring its first commercial RPSs to market by 2026. Zeno’s work with Westinghouse will build upon its nuclear demonstration at the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in October 2023. The demonstration confirmed that Zeno's patented innovation increases the specific power (Wth/kg) of its Sr-90 heat source compared with historic Sr-90 heat sources.

Radioisotope power systems that convert heat into electricity for off-grid power have been used for space missions ranging from the Apollo moonshots to the Curiosity rover mission to Mars and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Those systems have typically used plutonium-238, but Zeno is working on systems that make use of other radioisotopes such as strontium-90 (Sr-90), which is created as a byproduct in nuclear fission reactors. Existing strontium-based power systems tend to be bulky and Zeno’s more compact design could open the way for a wider range of applications.

"We’ve demonstrated the core building block of our technology – now we’re pleased to be working with the remarkable team at Westinghouse to enable and accelerate the deployment of our commercial RPSs,” said Harsh S Desai, Zeno Power Chief Commercialisation Officer.

Tyler Bernstein, Co-Founder & CEO of Zeno Power said working with Westinghouse, “we will build the nuclear hardware for our RPSs to provide reliable power in the most critical domains of the 21st century – from the depths of the oceans to the surface of the Moon”.

Dan Sumner, President of Westinghouse Operating Plant Services, said: “Our relationship with Zeno Power aligns with our vision to expand the use of nuclear into new markets.”

Image: Zeno Power CEO Tyler Bernstein and Dan Sumner, President of Westinghouse Operating Plant Services (courtesy of Zeno Power)

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