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 Post subject: Homemade breeder project
PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 12:15 pm 
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Location: Erie, Michigan USA
I don't know if this is the correct place to put this query...but: After reading the book "The Radioactive Boy scout" (On amazon), I was wondering if I could produce U-233 by getting myself a piece of Hastelloy pipe (HP), capped at the bottom. Then, insert into the bottom of the HP a piece of Americium 241, from a smoke detector (a source of alpha particles); a piece of beryllium metal (5 gr, as a neutron source), from ebay; a piece of Thorium 90(.025 gr); and a couple pieces of graphite, as the moderator (that can be pulled up out of the HP, to control neutron speed). Then, I'd stick the HP down inside a eutectic salt drum (ES), designed to melt at around 400F. A Copper pipe coil imbedded in the ES would carry water which turns into steam to run a small steam engine/generator, with enough heat left over to heat my home/shop. The big question is: How long would it take to come up to operating temperature (27days ?) I still have an open question on amount of neutron shielding I would have to install. Thanks for any feedback. Chuck Bagwell, Erie, MI USA


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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 1:02 pm 
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If only this would work! I think your plan has a few holes (critical mass?), but I think I'll let the experts on the site comment on your scheme.


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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 1:13 pm 
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That doesn't work, fortunately; if it did nuclear weapons would be ubiquitous. Alpha neutron sources make almost no neutrons at all compared to reactors.


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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 2:00 pm 
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the most sucess you could try would be refined uranium,
and a variation of the "tickling the dragon tail" death risk experiment

you must think about both shielding and cooling as well (molten lead works well)

i would recommend a large 60 gallon drum, surounded by 4ft x 4ft (1.5 meters squared) block/slab of reinforced concrete as your "core"

in this drum you will place the "non crritical core of pure thorium, uranium, and any other sort of ?????/""

also surrounding your core, you will place two semi round pure steel "bowls/chinese cooking woks" to reflect the neutron back to the core ( this should achieve criticality, and your death due to radiation poisoning) ( tickiling the dragon tail = death) (maintain strong chain to pull up the top
round reflector, which will stop the reaction)


when your core goes critical, you will fill your steel 60 gallon drum with pure lead ( coolant and radiation containment at the same time)


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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 2:06 pm 
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criticality, cost, and safety as always are your highest concerns.

lead cooling will protect you from massive radiation ( if you use the 60 gallon steel drum)

cost will be about 10k dollars for the materials

the benefit of the huge concrete slab ( 4 x 4 feet) 1.5 meters squared will be that very little will be able to escape if do it properly. lead is heavier than water so as the lead melts any water will a. boil away. b. rise to the top so the steel drum will provide adequate containment.

when the epa is called into clean up your mess, hopefully they can take the slab and haul it away to one of their military bases for "further testing and disposal"


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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 3:54 pm 
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If you want a neutron source, your best bet may be to put together a farnsworth fusor or a Polywell. You can then run D-D fusion and get neutrons.

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PostPosted: Feb 18, 2014 6:24 pm 
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Thanks guys for your feedback. Guess I'll have to rethink this project.


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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 11:48 am 
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KitemanSA wrote:
If you want a neutron source, your best bet may be to put together a farnsworth fusor or a Polywell. You can then run D-D fusion and get neutrons.


how many neutrons are we talking here about, with current polywell technology?

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 12:37 pm 
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PebbleMaster wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
If you want a neutron source, your best bet may be to put together a farnsworth fusor or a Polywell. You can then run D-D fusion and get neutrons.


how many neutrons are we talking here about, with current polywell technology?

We wish we knew. But Polywells are supposed to be several thousand times as productive as simple fusors and fusors are becoming the large neutron source of record. Just a thought.

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 1:33 pm 
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I know I won't have a lot of neutrons flying around initially, but I'm hoping that with patience, the neutron flux will slowly build over a month or so, until critical mass is achieved.
I was thinking perhaps someone would suggest adding some FLIBE salts to the mix? Being a novice on FLIBE reactions at this point...I don't know if it would help my situation at this point though? I'm only trying to get 10-20 KW/h thermal. Chuck Bagwell


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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 2:24 pm 
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zerwell wrote:
I know I won't have a lot of neutrons flying around initially, but I'm hoping that with patience, the neutron flux will slowly build over a month or so, until critical mass is achieved.

Nope. Decades maybe.

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 5:13 pm 
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Chuck,
Start with "Introduction to Nuclear Engineering" by John Lamarsh.
Get an idea what it takes to achieve criticality.
Then do some calculations.
This is much harder than what you've outlined.


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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 5:25 pm 
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This http://www.sciner.com/Neutron/index.htm lists neutron sources. I haven't dealt with them but these appear to be off the shelf items. The ING-03 will produce 2e16 neutrons in it's 100 hour lifetime. This will convert 8 micrograms of U-238 into Pu-239 if you don't waste any neutrons. If I recall correctly, it takes several kilograms of Pu-239 to go critical without a moderator, less if you use a moderator. So good luck!

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2014 5:49 pm 
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Lars,
Thanks for the book recommendation. Time to brush up on basics.

pstudier,

Thanks for the link, good reference.


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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2014 1:41 pm 
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What would you do with something like that other than it being a nasty science project? Could you disguise it as an outside boiler, use it to heat hot water and then your house?


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