Accelerating nuclear decay

  • Thread starter sanman
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745
20

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi,

While googling around further, I came across this reference:

http://www.springerlink.com/content/882432575m335467/

Abstract. In the metal Cu cooled to T = 12K the α-decay half-life of 210Po nuclides, located inside the metal, was measured to be shorter by 6.3±1.4% compared to that at room temperature.
That sounds significant. 210Po is supposed to be a significant alpha emitter, and has been used in Radioisotope Thermal Generators. So enhancing its decay rate by 5-8% means significantly more energy output. However, I'd imagine it would be difficult to drain the heat off a nuclear fuel element fast enough to keep it at 12K.

But still, wouldn't it be an interesting idea?
 

Answers and Replies

2,400
6
Hi,

now that this discussion is open on the topic, maybe we can stick to it here :smile:

You can play with beta-decay, but there is no way it will produce as much energy as fission/fusion. The main difference is that beta-decay occurs through the weak force whereas fission/fussion come about with the strong force. The names were chosen of course for a reason. Not only are the energies involved in fission/fusion definitely larger, but also those reactions are much faster.

Any case, the general discussion is interesting, but not for energy production.
 
745
20
Well, like I said, you could also choose a nuclide that has a naturally shorter half-life, so that you can get more power out of it naturally. Then perhaps you could increase the beta-decay rate over and beyond that.

What's wrong with trying to use something like deuterons, to bombard them against a heavy nuclide in the hopes that you'll get alpha emission?

I was also reading about double-beta decay, but I don't know if that's something which can be influenced.

If nuclear stability also relates to nuclear vibrations, then couldn't magnetic resonance help to weaken nuclei?
 

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