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Questions regarding nucleosynthesis

  1. Sep 20, 2011 #1
    I'm working on a project for a space habitat, and I want to have the math to back it up. By the way this is not homework, it's just something I do in my spare time. And if you have the links where I can learn more about these things, just provide those and I'll learn on my own.

    Is there any way (including artificial means) to fission a stable nuclei? I know unstable nuclei such as U238 can be fissioned and some like Cf252, spontaneously fission over time.

    P.S. Is there anyway to gather simple elements from stars and other space objects such as hydrogen and helium and artificially turn them into nitrogen, carbon or oxygen, and if so how?

    P.P.S. If the questions are too vague, then I apologize.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    Sure, you can hit a nucleus with high energy neutrons to "split" it. This won't release any extra energy generally, and you can't start a chain reaction either.

    Fusion Power relies on the artificial creation of a fusion reaction to fuse lighter elements into heavier ones. Currently we are trying to get the isotopes of the lightest element, hydrogen, to fuse with themselves and harness the power generated. So far we have yet to succeed, but many people are hopeful and we have made significant progress in the last half century. It's a very hard thing to do! The isotopes that we fuse turn into Helium, but using heavier elements will result in different end products, including nitrogen, carbon, or oxygen.
     
  4. Sep 23, 2011 #3

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    Attempting to fission stable nuclei is not effective. On needs a source (usually fissle) of neutrons, and a fissile source normally implies a reactor capable of criticality and excess reactivity. One could use d+d or d+t fusion for a neutron source, but the production of neutrons is not very efficient.

    Stars do this with the pp-chain and CNO-cycle, but at much high temperatures and pressures (P ~ nkT) than can be achieved in man-made systems.
    http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/energy/ppchain.html
    http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/energy/cno.html
    http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/energy/cno-pp.html
     
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