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Induce radioactive decay via electron capture?

  1. Jun 10, 2006 #1

    Is it possible to induce decay in a radioactive element by introducing vast amounts of high-energy electrons in the hope that they would be absorbed via electron capture?

    I was thinking about how to use up all the reactor waste that the US generates (I live in Washington State, a great dumping site :))...might this be a way?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2006 #2


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    Washington State is not a 'dumping site', but it does have waste accumulation tanks from the nuclear weapons program at the Hanford Reservation, as well as one commercial nuclear plant, which like the others generates HLW in the form of spent fuel and activated corrosion products.

    High level waste goes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM. How much waste will actually be stored remains to be seen. http://www.wipp.energy.gov/

    There is a facility in Idaho at INL (INEL) which takes the spent cores from the navy.

    Finally, Yucca Mountain, NV is supposed to be accepting the spent nuclear fuel from US nuclear plants some time (if ever). However, reprocessing is seriously being considered.

    As for electron capture, that would impractical due to the energy requirements, and the fact that one would have to deal with subsequent transmutations. Besides, the majority of fission products are beta emitters, so electron capture would have low probablity.

    For information on decay modes of radionuclides, see http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/nudat2/reColor.jsp?newColor=dm Zoom 1 gives greatest detail.

    Chart of nuclides - http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/nudat2/ .

    Transmutation of long-lived isotopes is under consideration in either a subcritical accelerator driven system (ADS) or actinide burner reactor (ABR).
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2006
  4. Jun 12, 2006 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    It won't work, and would just create more radioactivity, while adding to global warming.
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