May 31, 2023, 11:47:26 AM
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Topic: Experiment to Observe Electrical Energy from Nuclear Material (ends in failure)  (Read 7116 times)

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Offline NuclearBattGuy

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Hey guys,

Not sure if this is the right place for this but thought I'd give it a go.
Here was my hypothesis: that I would not be able to get any electrical energy from a 1 uCi source of 241Am (found in my smoke detector) using Sodium Hydroxide as an electrolyte (only allowed myself to use household products for this first experiment) because of its concentration and being a pure alpha emitter

1st = 1st experiment
2nd = 2nd experiment

Here is what I found:
1st: 312 grams
2nd: same

Sodium Hydroxide
1st: 1 gram (1.25 ml)
2nd: 9 grams (6 scoops X 1.25 ml = 7.5 ml? cannot be right - scale must be off)

1st: 74 grams (100 ml? Cannot be right)
2nd: Same

Glass w/ water
1st: 312 + 74 grams = 386 grams
2nd: same

1st: 1 micro curie
- No electrical effect
2nd: same as 1st
- no electrical effect

9 volt battery
1st: Very little electrical effect - small chemical reaction probably due to concentration of Na OH
2nd: similar to 1st

- presence of sodium bicarbonate in ball form could interfere w/ electrical effect (that's why using drain cleaner is not such a good idea; but 1 mCi of an Alpha source may not be enough - need something stronger)

2nd observation: Liquid mixture turns blue from the drain cleaner additives hard to tell what is the sodium hydroxide from the other chemicals, especially the particulates
Try to remove particulates as much as possible this had no affect on the electrical effect
Larger concentration does create a more poignant odor there may be some ammonium in the solution

Experiment absolute failure to produce intended result; confirmed hypothesis that a 1uCi alpha emitting source is ineffective for electrical energy in presence of electrolyte (either need higher concentration or something stronger)

Sodium hydroxide is a good electrolyte while widely available it has disadvantages at least in terms of smell (making it hazardous to use at higher concentrations), cleanliness (left slight discoloration on copper leads and in glass jar, may have even eroded the conv. positive lead in both experiments) unless some of this can be explained based on the other chemicals present in the drain cleaner I used (Zep Commercial contains these ingredients: Sodium Hydroxide, caustic soda, soda lye sodium nitrate, chile saltpeter, soda niter aluminum, metallic granules sodium carbonate, soda ash, carbonic acid)

Let me know ways to get better results

Offline Borek

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Wouldn't hurt to know what you did and what you were expecting to see. Just listing materials doesn't tell us anything about the experiment, and whether it makes any sense.
ChemBuddy chemical calculators - stoichiometry, pH, concentration, buffer preparation,,

Offline Arkcon

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Like Borek: said, this is almost impossible to follow.  I can only guess, you attempted to generate power from the alpha emission of a tiny amount of Am from a household smoke detector.  That seems both pointless and hazardous -- since if it could generate power by nuclear decay, the instrument would be hazardous.   In fact, its ill advised to play with this sort of thing anyway, just because you can buy one, doesn't mean you should take it apart.

Then you mention electrolysis, so you want to put electrical energy in get more out?  Nuclear transitions and chemical transitions are, for the most part, separate.  At least from a practical standpoint.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Enthalpy

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Similar to electrolytes (which have never been used to my knowledge), you can irradiate a solar cell with the emitted particles, and this knowingly provides some little bit of electricity.

The similarity between a solar cell and an electrolysis cell lets me suppose that the same process should provide electricity but is too inefficient at an electrolysis cell.

Don't expect to power hour house from the 241Am detector! Measuring some photocurrent in absolute perfect darkness would already be nice.

If each ~3.5MeV disintegration produced 1e6 pairs, or 3.7e10 q/s, the maximum photocurrent would be 6nA, seriously difficult to measure for a specialist. So with the inefficient electrolyte and possibly an imperfect setup, the current would be too small to measure.

By the way, alphas go through very little thickness of solid material. Could your setup avoid any container and so on at the alphas' path?

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