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Radioactive Decay as a Power Source

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Strontium-90 is to be used in a radioisotopic thermoelectric generator (RTG) for powering a navigation beacon located in the arctic.

a) How much of the Sr-90 activity is required to generate 50 W of electric power if the conversion efficiency from heat to electricity is 30%? Tip: You must take into account the fact that Sr-90 is in equilibrium with its daughter, Y-90.
b) What is the mass of Sr-90 required?
c) Weight is an important factor in the design of a portable, isotopic heat source. If weight is to be kept at a minimum and if the source is to generate 50 W after 1 year of operation, would there be an advantage to using Po-210 compared to Sr-90?

Solution Preview

Electricity to be generated = 50 W
But the efficiency of conversion of heat to electricty is only 30 %.
So heat Required * 0.3 = Electricty Required
Therefore Heat ...

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