Which radioactive isotope is better for building an atomic bomb?

By Jim Campbell

March 17, 2018

The answer is an unequivocal  it depends!

If the desired use is for use in North Korea, than uranium with its much shorter half-life would be the way to go.

Uranium was used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

 

 

Today if a U.S. President with the backing of congress voted to go nuclear and clearly send the message the isotope would be plutonium.

This of course is highly unlikely to happen, congress has become so partisan they refuse to agree on virtually anything.

Plutonium will destroy the target and surrounding areas for generations to come.

Scientists knew that the most common isotope, uranium 238, was not suitable for a nuclear weapon.

There is a fairly high probability that an incident neutron would be captured to form uranium 239 instead of causing a fission.

However, uranium 235 has a high fission probability.

Of natural uranium, only 0.7% is uranium 235.

This meant that a large amount of uranium was needed to obtain the necessary quantities of uranium 235.

Also, uranium 235 cannot be separated chemically from uranium 238, since the isotopes are chemically similar.

Nuclear Chain Reactions

A chain reaction refers to a process in which neutrons released in fission produce an additional fission in at least one further nucleus.

This nucleus in turn produces neutrons, and the process repeats.

The process may be controlled (nuclear power) or uncontrolled (nuclear weapons).

Nuclear Chain Reaction

Alternative methods had to be developed to separate the isotopes.

This was another problem for the Manhattan Project scientists to solve before a bomb could be built.

Research had also predicted that plutonium 239 would have a high fission probability.

Controlled Nuclear Fission

Controlled Nuclear Chain Reaction

To maintain a sustained controlled nuclear reaction, for every 2 or 3 neutrons released, only one must be allowed to strike another uranium nucleus.

If this ratio is less than one then the reaction will die out; if it is greater than one it will grow uncontrolled (an atomic explosion).

A neutron absorbing element must be present to control the amount of free neutrons in the reaction space.

Modern Day Plutonium nuclear war head

Most reactors are controlled by control rods that are made of a strongly neutron-absorbent material such as boron or cadmium.

In addition to the need to capture neutrons, the neutrons often have too much kinetic energy.

These fast neutrons are slowed by a moderator such as heavy water and ordinary water.

Some reactors use graphite as a moderator, but this design has several problems.

Once the fast neutrons have been slowed, they are more likely to produce further nuclear fusions or be absorbed by the control rod.

However, plutonium 239 is not a naturally occurring element and would have to be made.

Scientists say plutonium may be the worst of all the fission byproducts that could enter the environment as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

That’s why MOX fuel rods that are piled up in spent fuel pools near the Unit 3 reactor, which consist of a mix of plutonium and uranium isotopes, have become the number one concern of workers at the plant.

Plutonium-239, the isotope found in the spent MOX fuel, is much more radioactive than the depleted Uranium-238 in the fuel.

Plutonium emits alpha radiation, a highly ionizing form of radiation, rather than beta or gamma radiation.

External exposure to alpha particles isn’t much of a health risk, because they have a low penetration depth and are usually stopped by skin.

When alpha-emitters get inside cells, on the other hand, they are extremely hazardous.

Alpha rays sent out from within cells cause somewhere between 10 and 1,000 times more chromosomal damage than beta or gamma rays.

For those who want to become nuclear physicists please go here. (Source)

Remember this could be hazardous to your health including your friends family and all those around you.

In all probability you will die.

It’s up to you.

Not my pony, not my circus.

THE END

 

 

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About JCscuba

I am firmly devoted to bringing you the truth and the stories that the mainstream media ignores. Together we can restore our constitutional republic to what the founding fathers envisioned and fight back against the progressive movement. Obama nearly destroyed our country economically, militarily coupled with his racism he set us further on the march to becoming a Socialist State. Now it's up to President Trump to restore America to prominence. Republicans who refuse to go along with most of his agenda RINOs must be forced to walk the plank, they are RINOs and little else.
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2 Responses to Which radioactive isotope is better for building an atomic bomb?

  1. Who Knew? says:

    This article reminds me of the once known “Neutron Bomb” that was supposed to kill the people but leave the infrastructure in tact. Of course, the problem was that this weapon killed all forms of life and lasted for many decades.

    To overcome this dilemma, the foot soldier became the common denominator of war and has remained as such for all of recorded history. Of course, we are now learning that recorded history may be many times longer than we previously thought.

    It is interesting that people did not capture the power of nuclear fusion for peaceful purposes many years ago. Makes me wonder what Madam Curry would think of this entire mess? Ironic that this scientist died from radiation poisoning from her work solving some of these issues and mysteries of Uranium..

    Like

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