# B Removing a proton from mercury

1. Aug 25, 2017

### bluecap

Why are there no gold companies that produce gold by removing a proton from mercury? Is it because mercury is expensive or lack of facilities to remove the proton.

Given a lot of budget (like billions).. what would it take to remove a proton from mercury to produce gold?

2. Aug 25, 2017

### phinds

Last estimate I heard about making gold my molecular manipulation was as I recall, that it would take about $1000 to make$1 worth of gold.

3. Aug 25, 2017

### bluecap

Even if it's not practical.. please tell me the process how to remove a proton from a mercury to produce gold..

4. Aug 25, 2017

### phinds

I have no idea. I'm an engineer. Something this utterly impractical is of no interest to me. I'm sure one of our experts can help you though. I don't know that the process involves mercury but it might.

5. Aug 26, 2017

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
(n,p) reaction. However, Au has only one stable isotope, Au-197, and Hg-197 is unstable and decays by electron capture to Au-197. To produce Hg-197, one would have to take Hg-196 (isotopic abundance = 0.0015), expose it to neutrons and hope for an (n,γ) reaction, and wait for the electron capture, so no need for the (n,p) reaction. Alternatively, one would take Hg-198 (isotopic abundance = 0.0997), expose it to neutrons for an (n, 2n) reaction to make Hg-197 in hopes it would decay to Au-197.

There is the energy in producing neutrons (e.g., at least 10 MeV/n for an n,2n reaction in Hg-198 vs isolation of Hg-196 from the natural distribution followed by exposure to a thermal neutron flux), then there is the matter of a fraction (often small) of the neutrons causing the desired reaction. Transmutation of Hg to Au is generally very uneconomical via so-called artificial or unnatural processes.

Last edited: Aug 26, 2017