Nuclear brick

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A nuclear brick is a small RTG or nuclear reactor built to the form-factor of a brick and controlled by a wireless network. They are to power brick furnaces and heaters for smelting, casting, glass melting and curing, heating of habitats and greenhouses, heating of chemicals, and other thermal processes. A plutonium-powered RTG could last several years but has a much lower specific power than an americium-242-powered nuclear reactor. A 1.6 kg americium core can produce 70 kW of thermal power but this core must be replaced every 80 days of operation. Americium-242 exists on Earth as a byproduct of normal nuclear reactors. [1] The enrichment process required to create significant amounts of americium would be very expensive, however, and there are less expensive ways of producing heat. Americium costs about 1 500 000 $ per kg.[2]

A martian settlement, as soon as it starts producing significant amounts of food and propellant. will be a thermally rich environment. Energy production from nuclear reactors produces between 50 and 75% of it's output as heat. So these bricks might not be much use, except perhaps for isolated vehicles or instruments.


  1. Genuth, Iddo, 2006, Americium Power Source, TFOT The Future of Things. [1]