I read a news article recently about a cloud of ruthenium-106 being released over Europe. The article mentioned one of the uses for this specific isotope is in fuel cells for satellites. I tried to do some research but i couldn't find information on a fuel cell that used this specific isotope. What kinds of fuel cell or power generator use ruthenium-106?
Is the source of your information about Ruthenium 106 use in Satellite power systems ABC or NASA? I if it is not NASA, I suspect the author may have misunderstood. If it is NASA, I’m going to have to make a phone call.
Satellites do use fuel cells, and the best Methanol fuel cells do use Ruthenium in their catalysts. However I have never heard of them specifically using the Ru106 isotope.
A fuel cell combines a fuel (hydrogen or hydrogen source) with an oxidizer (oxygen or air) to produce electrical power. Fuel cells can use hydrogen directly, or they can obtain hydrogen from another fuel, like liquid methanol (wood alcohol), which can be transported more easily than hydrogen.
There are problems with using methanol (slow reaction kinetics reduce the performance, catalyst instability, methanol crossover, and thermal and water management). But ternary Pt-Ru-Ni catalyst layers are now available that have been prepared on a glassy carbon substrate by galvanic partial replacement of electro-deposited Ni layers, upon their immersion at room temperature in mixed Pt and Ru salt solutions. The ternary catalyst exhibits high electro-catalytic activity toward methanol electro-oxidation offering efﬁcient practical Pt-Ru catalysts on high surface area carbon supports for use in direct methanol fuel cells.