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selfAdjoint Dec22-03 05:20 PM

Hilsch Tube Question
The Hilsch tube is not often mentioned anymore. It is a T-shaped arrangement of three tubes. A gas is led in through the stem of the T. Vanes inside use centrifugal force to direct the faster moving molecules to one side, where the exit tube is bigger, and the slower ones to the thinner tube on the other side. In practice you can easily feel the difference in temperature of the two outputs.

Originally the Hilsch tube was presented as a challenge to thermodynamics, like Maxwell's demon. It has been successfully explained, although I don't now remember what the explanation was.

My question is this: Could the Hilsch tube be used to separate isotopes of the same element? Not to put too fine a point on it, could it be used to refine U235 from natural Uranium? Could anyone figure out how it would compare to other methods of doing this?

mathman Dec22-03 07:33 PM

Centrifuges are used to enrich Uranium, that is increase the U235 fraction, so that it can be used more efficiently in reactors, or even bombs.

selfAdjoint Dec23-03 11:43 AM

Yes thanks, mathman. I new that. But apparently centrifuges for uranium separation are sensitive and costly because of their high speed. The Hilsch tube has no moving parts (aside from pumps).

J Thomas Aug28-04 08:22 PM

Yes, it works.

Somebody on this thread says the south africans did it. He says there are cheaper and more effective ways when better technology is available.

I don't know if he's right that it doesn't work very well, but the south african reference at least gives a place to look.

selfAdjoint Sep13-04 07:40 PM

Thanks for the reference. I'm glad that someone tried the idea of using vortex tubes for separation! As for the "if technology is available", I was thinking of cases where technology wasn't available.

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