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Atomic physics topics related to nuclear power?

  1. Sep 15, 2006 #1
    Sorry if this is wrong part of the board to post in....

    I am taking a atomic-molcular physics class right now and we are suposed to hold a 25 minute presentation in 4 weeks on a hot topic in atomic-molecular physics.

    If possible Il gladly take this as a chanse to deepen my knoweledge on nuclear power:approve: But I have no clue what atomic-molecular physics related topics that are hot and related to nuclear power right now.:confused: :grumpy:

    Just looking for some general ideas that I can look into, where I can search and so on. Any help would be greatly appriciated :approve:
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2006 #2


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    Atomic Vapor Laser Isotopic Separation (AVLIS) or SILVA in France.


    The US (USEC) abandoned its attempt, but recently an Australian group has apparently perfected an economic process which it licensed to GE.



    Alternative Applications of Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation Technology

    See - http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4734177.pdf - patent.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2006
  4. Sep 15, 2006 #3


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    Atomic and molecular physics is typically NOT about nuclear power and is quite a separate field from nuclear/particle physics.

    You're taking the class right now - have you been learning about nuclear physics?
  5. Sep 16, 2006 #4
    Ohh yes you are right this class is nothing about nuclear power.
    But I am sure there are atomic physics related problems in nuclear power.

    The ideas I have for my presentation(we are very free to choose topic aslong as it ties in to atomic physics somehow) is.

    Explaining the greenhouse gases and how they trap heat on a molecular level.
    Talking about creating and storing anti hydrogen atoms.
    Something related to nuclear power somehow.

    So now Im just investigating the last option:approve: Simply because I take every chanse I can to read more about nuclear power:wink:
  6. Sep 16, 2006 #5
    Thanks. That sounds like a topic perfect for my presentation:tongue2:

    Can this processes be used in partitioning waste products aswell in any future fuel cycle?
  7. Sep 16, 2006 #6


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    Possibly, but given the volume of waste, I don't think LIS would be practical. It is one thing to process and energy source with LIS, with the expectation that one puts in less energy than one obtains from the stored nuclear energy, and it quite another to process waste, which represents net energy consumption.

    Chemical separation is the most common bulk waste treatment process, and since this is usually done in an aqueous process, the waste stream must be de-watered, dried, calcined (in the form of metal oxides), then vitrified into a solid mass (reduced surface area), and then clad (encapsulated) in a corrosion (chemical) resistant material, which then isolates the waste from the environment, which prevents transport of radionuclides from the mass fo waste.
  8. Sep 16, 2006 #7


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    As Astronuc points out; you don't need an isotopic separation processor for the waste.

    AVLIS is an isotopic separation process; which you use when you want to keep
    some isotopes of an element and "discard" other isotopes. When you enrich uranium;
    you want to keep the U-235 for your reactor, and you want to discard a bunch of the

    In the waste stream, you usually want to discard ALL the isotopes of a given
    element; you want to discard ALL the Cesium isotopes, not just the Cesium-137.

    If you want to keep isotopes; for instance Plutonium; you don't want to keep just
    the Plutonium-239 for the next fuel cycle, you wnat to keep the Pu-240, Pu-241,
    Pu-242.. because you don't want those isotopes in the waste stream, but to "burn"
    them down to fission products in the next fuel cycle.

    So isotopic separation processes like AVLIS don't do the type of separation you
    need to do in the waste stream; you want to chemically separate the wastes;
    not isotopically separate the wastes.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  9. Sep 19, 2006 #8
    Thanks for clearing that up :)

    What process is used to separate for instance plutonium from the waste and how efficient is it? Does a substantial ammount of plutonium get left in the waste after extraction?
  10. Sep 19, 2006 #9


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    Purex process is perhaps the common chemical recovery technique. It's pretty efficient. The goal is recover as much as possible leaving behind microgram quantities, but those can also be recovered.

    Since Pu is a 'special nuclear material', accountability is a big deal.

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