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Help! uranium and plutonium costs

  1. Jun 17, 2008 #1
    im so desperate. i can not find anything on the costs of uranium 234 and plutonium 239 per kilogram. please help me.

    also if anyone has any information on the detonation/trigger/aftermath on the bombs 'little boy' of hiroshima and 'fat man' of nagasaki.

    any help is MUCHLEY APPRECIATED.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2008 #2

    Gib Z

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    I'm pretty sure they don't sell these kind of materials very openly o_O. And Did you mean U-235?.
     
  4. Jun 17, 2008 #3

    Andrew Mason

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    Uranium is sold as U3O8. The world price for U3O8 is currently about $60 US per pound or $132 per kg. This is natural uranium which has about .7% U235 and 99.3% U238.

    Candu reactors use natural U (processed into UO2. Most other reactors use lightly enriched U. Enrichment is expensive. The price of enriched U depends on the level of enrichment. To make 1 kg of U enriched to 5% U235 you need 7 kg of natural U. Then you have to factor in the cost of enrichment which I think is about 2 SWU per percent of enrichment at about $100 per SWU. To enrich to 5% you would have to spend another $1000 per kg on top of the cost of the U, so now you are up to about $2000 per kg. before manufacturing costs. I am guessing it is at least $3000 per kg including manufacturing, but that is just a guess.

    No one sells Pu. It does not occur naturally in any signficant quantities because it has a relatively short (in geological time) half life of 24,000 years. It is produced in reactors. But it is difficult to separate out the Pu239 from the U, fission products and heavier elements. It can be done but it is not permitted by law in the U.S.

    AM
     
  5. Jun 17, 2008 #4
    .. and with good reason!
    Pu is unbelievably toxic. Radioactive enough to force users to keep their well shielded distance; and contamination by even a tiny amount (micrograms) will do damage and cause cancers.
     
  6. Jun 17, 2008 #5

    mgb_phys

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    The toxicity of Pu is exagerated, don't breath in dust of it but compared to something really nasty like uncooked fish or a rusty nail it's child's play.

    It's only an alpha emitter so well-shielded would require a sheet of newspaper.
    A few micrograms in the correct form in the lungs gives a few % increase in cancer risk.

    It's not widely sold because it's only real application is in building nuclear weapons, personal use of nuclear weapons doesn't seem to be covered by the 2nd ammendment.
     
  7. Jun 18, 2008 #6
    im not making a bomb. i have to DESIGN one and find out details about cost and things for school.
     
  8. Jun 18, 2008 #7

    mgb_phys

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    The best resource is probably http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/

    It is difficult to set a price for Pu since it is not exactly a traded commodity
    You could take the total budget of the dept of energy over the last 50years and divide by the total stockpile!
     
  9. Jun 18, 2008 #8

    Andrew Mason

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    Correction

    This is not quite correct. Since depleted U is still about .2% U235, 7 kg of raw U would yield 1 kg. of 3.5% U235. Enriching 1 Kg of U235 to 5% requires 10 kg of raw U.

    AM
     
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