I found this and thought it was cool - so wanted to share:
RITE GENs: Radioactive Isotope Thermoelectric Generators are a clever way of generating energy by using the heat generated by radioactive material (e.g. plutonium) coupled to a thermoelectric material which generates a current when heated - i.e. we have a long term low power battery!
What is also interesting is where they are useful. They are used as power sources in satellites, space probes and unmanned remote facilities, such as a series of lighthouses built by the former Soviet Union inside the Arctic Circle. They are usually the most desirable power source for unmanned or unmaintained situations needing a few hundred watts or less of power for durations too long for other power sources.
What I found very interesting is such a device is actually buried at the bottom of the pacific ocean from the failed Apollo 13 mission!!!
I can just imagine a story where an evil mastermind bent on world domination aims to collect all these forgotten RTG relics made decades ago...
Anyways, food for a variety of stories, I bet...
[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited June 08, 2010).]