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RTG Plans needed.

  1. Jan 3, 2004 #1
    Hello, my nuclear comrades.

    I am in a bit of a project rut. You see, I have been looking for cheap, reliable methods of producing wattage with homemade parts, and the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator caught my eye. Are there schematics on said generator out there on the semi-murky depths of the internet? If so, either post a link to the site(s), or tell me info of what you know about the RTGs themselves. Multi-thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2004 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Uh, though the concept is pretty simple, the fuel is Pu238, which is one of the more expensive and difficult to obtain substances on earth.

    What exactly are you trying to do here? In any case, a google search will give you all kinds of good info.
  4. Jan 3, 2004 #3
    Well, so much for that. I doubt I could actually find Plutonium 238 in a precise amount to generate electricity, anyhow. Thanks for the saved-me-of-the-trouble-of-finding-Plutonium-help.
  5. Jan 4, 2004 #4


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    I think there are some which use Thorium as well.

    IIRC, Thorium can be found in your typical smoke detecter (I think it was Thorium, anyways). Unfortunately, not in the quantity you'd need for a generator.

    After you spent more money than you'd like (certainly more than just going through PEPCO, I'd wager), you'll have to answer to the Gub'ment as to why you've collected so much 'dirty-bomb' material in your house. Not a viable alternative, I'd guess.
  6. Jan 4, 2004 #5
    Thank you, over-lord of the forums.

    I believe, to answer my quest's question, there is radium in clocks and watches. Perhaps I could scrape the material off or something.

    Cheers, my Vulcan friends.
  7. Jan 4, 2004 #6


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    You could scrape off the faces of millions of watches or buy a handful of lithium ion batteries...
  8. Feb 1, 2004 #7
    Now, there has to be some way of building a working RTG without having to go through all the government restrictions...

    Anyone here have ideas on how?

    *this is a worldwide question (can't do it in the US, but might be able to do it in Antarctica)* ;)
  9. Feb 1, 2004 #8
    Well, you/I can either run a watch company, a nuclear power plant, or a particle accelerator. All these methods would require loads of money, which is a bummer for broke scientists.

    However, I have heard of radioisotopes in the mid-western North American mountains. Perhaps you/I could privately make one using the small amounts in the mounts for the homemade RTGs.

    Project Prometheus is reducing the restrictions of nuclear devices in space, so there might still be a chance for ORION, NERVA, and other such etheric-nuke projects.
  10. Feb 2, 2004 #9
    Tritium power (was RTG Plans needed)

    The easiest and safest way to do this would be to use photocells instead of peltier junctions and feed them light with tritium-charged light tubes. The latter items are used inside iso-luminous exit signs. Just take the sign apart and there are your permanently-glowing tubes.

    You can purchase your tritium-charged exit signs here:

  11. Feb 14, 2004 #10
    <not exactly RTG but..>
    Americium is in smoke detectors
    Americium generates alpha particles
    Alpha particles ionise air
    This is how smoke detectors work
    You can use the ionised air to generate electricity (magnets anyone?)
    </not exectly RTG but..>
    Nice coder (i do more then just programing)
  12. Mar 4, 2004 #11
    What would produce more heat, Tritium or Americium?
  13. Apr 8, 2004 #12
    Trimium, but americium produces more ions and lasts longer
  14. Apr 25, 2004 #13
    I'm guessing that it would be a lot easier to aquire Americium?

    Anyone know how hot a RTG needs to get in order to work?
  15. Apr 26, 2004 #14


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    Define "easier"? Both are impossible (and tritium anyway would be illegal) for a civilian to acquire in a useful quantity. I heard once that tritium is the most expensive substance on earth (not sure if that includes anti-matter or not).
  16. Apr 26, 2004 #15
    Well, Americum can be pulled out of smoke detectors, and I believe that tritium is found in a glow-in-the-dark keychain outside the US. Now that I'm thinking about it, it would be more trouble that it's worth, but still possible to find.

    I have seen a place in the US that sells Cadmium109, Barium133, Cobalt57, Manganese54, Sodium22, Zinc65 - as "radiation sources", I've no idea on what quantities would be needed for a RTG, or if these would even work in place of Plutonium/etc.

    Again, I don't know how temperature-hot it needs to be in order to work - I could guess a lit cigarette or a burning lump of magnesium, but could also be way off.

    **I just found this link:
    http://www.ans.neep.wisc.edu/~ans/point_source/AEI/sep96/materials.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  17. May 13, 2004 #16
    Just wait for a Russian satellite with an onboard RTG to crash near you. :biggrin:
  18. May 13, 2004 #17
    Tritium power sources - legal or illegal

    It is illegal for civilians to buy these glowing, tritium-filled signs, from which wattage can be produced with the aid of photoelectric cells?
  19. May 14, 2004 #18


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    Is that a question or a statement? I didn't see anything on the site suggesting it was illegal for a civilian to own them, but in any case, if you wanted to use them as a source of tritium for a nuclear device, you'd need millions of signs.
  20. May 15, 2004 #19
    How many isoluminous signs does it take to build an RPG

    It seems that for an RPG (Radioisotope Photoelectric Generator), one would not need more than one sign (or even more than one isoluminous tube from one sign). How did you come up with the figure of millions?
  21. May 16, 2004 #20
    He’s probably thinking of how many would be needed to produce enough light to bring up any useful amount of wattage... :)
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