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Accelerating nuclear decay

  1. Apr 2, 2008 #1

    While googling around further, I came across this reference:


    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2008 #2

    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.
  4. Apr 3, 2008 #3
    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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