Making Heavy Elements: Can Plutonium Be Made Naturally?

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In summary: You probably don't use it all the time, but it's still kinda around, right? In summary, heavy elements can be made in other ways than through supernovae explosions.
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Hi there,

I understood that heavy elements could only be formed in stars or supernovae explosions. However I have just read that plutonium can be made by firing deuterons at uranium. Now uranium is a smaller atom than plutonium so what it going on?

It seems to me that heavy elements can be made in other ways than relying on stars? Can plutonium be made naturally this way?

Thanks!
 
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  • #2
Sure, we can make heavy elements. When we say that heavy elements are made only in stars/supernovas, we mean that nature only makes an appreciable amount of heavy elements in stars and supernovas. MUCH more than 99% of all heavy elements are made this way.
 
  • #3
naturally? As in "unassisted in nature"? Don't think so. It can be done with 16 M-ev deuterons.

The wikipedia page on Plutonium describes the reaction in the Isotopes and synthesis section. Basically add a neutron which beta decays into a proton and voila, another element.
 
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  • #4
Not that we cannot make something rather that we are extremely limit by the amount that we can make due to our limited energy , technological and other means.

We can make antimatter too , the thing is , the quantity is next to nothing , well I believe the plutonium production is way easier.
 
  • #5
esmeralda4 said:
Hi there,

I understood that heavy elements could only be formed in stars or supernovae explosions. However I have just read that plutonium can be made by firing deuterons at uranium. Now uranium is a smaller atom than plutonium so what it going on?

It seems to me that heavy elements can be made in other ways than relying on stars? Can plutonium be made naturally this way?

Thanks!

Hello! You might have heard of a little thing called the atomic bomb? It was pretty big in the TwenCen. Used lots and lots of plute. Made in these thingies called nuclear reactors. I mean this whole atomic energy thing, fission, fusion, neutrons, whatever! I mean like this stuff is still around, you know?
 

1. Can plutonium be created naturally?

No, plutonium is not naturally occurring on Earth. It is a synthetic element that is created through the process of nuclear fission in nuclear reactors.

2. How is plutonium created?

Plutonium is created by bombarding a target material, typically uranium, with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. This process causes the uranium atoms to split, creating plutonium atoms.

3. What is the half-life of plutonium?

The most common isotope of plutonium, plutonium-239, has a half-life of 24,110 years. This means that after 24,110 years, half of the plutonium atoms in a sample will have decayed into other elements.

4. Can plutonium be found in nature?

While plutonium is not naturally occurring on Earth, trace amounts of plutonium can be found in the environment due to nuclear testing and accidents. However, these levels are very low and not considered significant.

5. What is the main use of plutonium?

Plutonium is primarily used as a fuel for nuclear reactors, as well as in the production of nuclear weapons. It has also been used in the past in certain types of batteries and in spacecraft power systems.

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