Nuclear Black Box Would Aid Recovery, Says University Of Missouri Prof

Patrick Pinhero, a professor at the University of Missouri’s Chemical Engineering Department, suggests that a betavoltaic battery could keep black box location beacons operating longer on downed aircraft and aid recovery. “The current battery that powers the underwater locator beacon is a lithium ion battery that can operate for 30 to 40 days,” said Pinhero. “As seen in the recovery efforts with [Malaysia Airlines] Flight 370, lithium ion batteries have a finite life once activated,” he added. Pinhero advocates a betavoltaic battery as an alternative. Betavoltaic batteries – frequently used to power spacecraft on decades-long missions – use a radioactive source, such as tritium, to generate electricity. 

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