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Topic: Making Plutonium-239  (Read 30482 times)

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Offline jerryshizzle123

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Making Plutonium-239
« on: July 14, 2008, 01:16:23 AM »
Although very illegal, couldn't one make tiny amounts of plutonium-239 at home? Technically, all you would need is depleted uranium and a neutron source (like radium and beryllium, both of which are easily accessible).

Offline gippgig

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Re: Making Plutonium-239
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2008, 08:31:36 PM »
Sure you could. At a minimum, all you need to do is go to a rock shop, buy a piece of uranium ore, a piece of beryl, and touch them together. Note that nature has already performed this experiment - uranium ore typically contains ~1-10 atoms of 239Pu for every 1012 uranium atoms as a result of capture of stray neutrons (from spontaneous fission of 238U, cosmic ray spallation, etc.) by 238U, so if you just want a trace amount of Pu you don't even need to make it. This raises an interesting question - at what rate does the concentration  of 239Pu in uranium ore decline? Since this depends on both the concentration of 238U and the stray neutron flux (which itself at least partially depends on the 238U concentration) it should decrease faster than that of 238U itself. Has anyone figured this out?

Offline Rudster816

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Re: Making Plutonium-239
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 01:28:12 AM »
the problem would be getting that uranium in to plutonium at a concentration that would be usable. weapons grade is between 80 and 90 percent while plutonium used for energy purposes is ~10%

even at a very small amounts this concentration would likely be unpractical.

Offline vmelkon

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Re: Making Plutonium-239
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2008, 12:26:46 PM »
It would be difficult to make sufficient amount at home and then purify it, plus you would be working with highly toxic stuff.
Well, maybe you can make a few micrograms.

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Making Plutonium-239
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2008, 07:26:58 PM »
Google for "Radioactive Boyscout" it was an article in Harper's Bazaar years ago.  Apparently, some Eagle scout tried to do just what you're describing, and was moderately successful, if you define success by irradiating oneself, dumping radioactive components around your neighborhood, getting a visit from the NRC, and such like.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

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