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Propane to Plutonium Conversions?

  1. Dec 27, 2004 #1

    There are Thermoelectric Generators that work on gasoline and/or propane that seem to work quite well on those fuels.

    How hard would it be to convert these to operate from the heat of radioactive fuels? (provided that the fuels were available)

    Thick lead shielding, I suppose, would be on the top of the list. What else would have to be done?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2005 #2
    I'm surprised that no one was drawn into this thread by your question, even over the course of so many months. The question is actually quite interesting.

    Any decaying isotopes generate an amount of heat, which can then be used to generate power without the need for a controlled reaction, or any reaction at all. In fact, many space probes (voyager 1, voyager 2, cassini, etc) generate their power in this way, as the sun tends to be too distant for the use of solar panels.

    Provided that fuels are readily available, you seem correct that shielding would be first priority. The fuel itself need not be maintained or controlled in any way- it is simply required to exist and decay naturally as all radioactive substances do. Without a reaction occuring, lead sheilding might not be necessary, though some protection will be needed. Alternatively, the entire device could simply be buried in the ground.

    Come on people, you know that you've all allways wanted a nuclear device burried in your backyards!
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