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I Methods to Prove Existence of Tritium in Fusor Exhaust

  1. Apr 4, 2016 #1
    I'm looking in to a science fair project involving proving the existence of tritium in the exhaust of a Farnsworth fusor, and was wondering what the ideal method to prove it is. I've thought of three so far. The first is ionizing the gas and analyzing the spectra. The second is placing an alpha particle detector in a vacuum chamber filled with the gas. And the third is liquefying the gas and evaporating them off to collect and separating them. Ideas/opinions?
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  3. Apr 4, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    How different is the spectrum of tritium from hydrogen?
    Is tritium an alpha source?
    How much tritium will you produce? What is its boiling point? What is its volume in liquid form?
  4. Apr 5, 2016 #3
    What kind of resources are at your disposal? These sound rather ambitious.
    Trying to detect trace amounts of tritium in deuterium will be extremely difficult with spectroscopy, since the lines are so close together and the deuterium lines will totally dominate over the tritium. I would not go this route.
    A cloud chamber might be able to pick up positrons from tritium decay. But it would be so much simpler and cheaper to use a Geiger counter. Though a cloud chamber has the advantage of letting you identify positrons by their motion in a magnetic field.
    If you liquify the gas, you'll get a bunch of D2, and a tiny amount of DT and even tinier amount of T2 all dissolved together. It will take way too many fractional distillation stages to concentrate the T, and you still need some way of testing that what you have left is indeed tritium. Also, liquid hydrogen is damn cold. Also, the government might get a little wary about people enriching tritium without special licenses.

    Maybe this will give you some clues... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium_illumination
  5. Apr 5, 2016 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    A. Tritium does not produce positrons
    B. The electron endpoint is 18 keV; this will not penetrate most Geiger windows.
  6. Apr 19, 2016 #5
    Perhaps the 3He can be detected with a mass spectrometer.
  7. Apr 19, 2016 #6
    A residual gas analyzer may be able to distinguish between hydrogen and tritium, as long as you are at low enough pressures to run it.
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