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careysub
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 Quote: Originally posted by MrHomeScientist ... Something else I'd love to see, to know if it's practical, is to reduce the AmO2 found in smoke detector sources to elemental Am. I'm using one such pellet as my sample for my element collection, but it would be much better as the element rather than a compound

You will have a problem with trying to exhibit an element in visible form when you only have 0.25 micrograms of it (the amount in a contemporary smoke detector).

This is what 20 micrograms of a salt of Americium looks like:
http://www.vanderkrogt.net/elements/element.php?num=95

I don't think preparing a visible sample (without high magnification) is really feasible.

My suggestion is to deposit the americium in a phosphor and have an americium display specimen similar to the "radium dial" radium specimen most people use in their collection.

To get to 20 micrograms, and duplicate the Seaborg sample, you could obtain 80 smoke detectors; shelling out ~$400 if bought new. (This sort of thing starts falling afoul of the NRC general license, since it limits how much of something you can have in one place.) You could also round up a Pyrotronics F5 series detector made in the early 1970s. These had an astounding 80 microcuries (20 micrograms) in one detector. Since these were made 40 years ago 10% of the AM-241 has decayed to Np-237, so these old detectors now contain 2 micrograms of neptunium, the only accessible source of this I know. neptunium International Hazard Posts: 904 Registered: 12-12-2011 Location: between Uranium and Plutonium Member Is Offline Mood: meta stable well of course ! the goal is not to see the element! but to prove its presence! hence a spectrometer! my thread on radio isotope identification is about just that! http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=27963 being able to chemicaly separate those elements and follow them with the spectrometer (gamma and/or alpha) is what radiochemistry is about! accumulating massive amount of highly active isotope is just asking for all kinds of trouble! and unless you have access to a dump truck full of ore , impossible! Http://www.d-radlab.com/ careysub International Hazard Posts: 1339 Registered: 4-8-2014 Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome Member Is Offline Mood: Lowest quantum state  Quote: Originally posted by neptunium well of course ! the goal is not to see the element! but to prove its presence! hence a spectrometer! my thread on radio isotope identification is about just that! http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=27963 being able to chemicaly separate those elements and follow them with the spectrometer (gamma and/or alpha) is what radiochemistry is about! accumulating massive amount of highly active isotope is just asking for all kinds of trouble! and unless you have access to a dump truck full of ore , impossible! Exactly! And a gamma-ray spectrometer? Wow! I have still to get together a "click counter" - looking around for the best kits for this purpose. The United Nuclear uranium ore work-up page appears to be all about just extracting uranium. If you want that he is already selling pure metal at a reasonable price ($10/g in 10+ gram allotments - I don't currently know a cheaper source).

This is a waste of good ore: which also contains equilibrium amounts of Ra-226 (also a Rn-222 generator), Ac-227 (also a Fr-227 generator), Pa-231, and Pb-210 (Po-210 generator) all which are stable enough to separate and store for decades, and none of which can you buy. Also there are a mixture of active thorium isotopes. Being able separate and identify at least these nuclides (the old mysterious "radiums" of the early literature) makes this an interesting challenge (and adds five elements to your element collection). Simple uranium extractions would discard them all.

(Also his procedure is suitable for carnotite ore - for which I can identify no "reasonably" priced source, the only half-affordable source I can find has pitchblende/uraninite.)

[Edited on 14-8-2014 by careysub]
neptunium
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i agree, however Uranium is NOT that expansive! i REFUSE to pay $10 per gram of a metal worth$30 per pound!
When nature can provide you with free rocks as much as you can carry!
everybody seems to want it when all we really need is a cheap radiation detector and a location to go prospecting..
now i know not everybody can afford to take time off and travel accross the country and roam the Utah desert for rocks but charging $10 a gram (or more! way more!!!) is ridiculous! as for collecting samples of the element i would be content with a chunk of uranium ore insteat of Radium ,Actinium and Co... who would even try to get Astatine??? the best i would do is point at the gamma spectrum the peak label At210 (half life 8hours!) thats the beauty of spectrometry! we dont need grams !! a few thousand atoms is enough! Http://www.d-radlab.com/ Marvin International Hazard Posts: 991 Registered: 13-10-2002 Member Is Offline careysub, I am having some difficulty in locating the part of the NRC General licence that permits the manipulation of microcurie amounts of radionuclides in solution by members of the public. Could you provide this to put our minds at rest? careysub International Hazard Posts: 1339 Registered: 4-8-2014 Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome Member Is Offline Mood: Lowest quantum state  Quote: Originally posted by Marvin careysub, I am having some difficulty in locating the part of the NRC General licence that permits the manipulation of microcurie amounts of radionuclides in solution by members of the public. Could you provide this to put our minds at rest? I was waiting to see when this issue would be raised on this thread, after getting past the unreasoned fears of working with small amounts of radiation. You want to find specific permission written into Federal regulation? Sorry, no can do. If you wish to conduct radiochemical investigations you will have to join the rest of the hobby chemists in skirting regulation by not causing anyone any problems, or you can apply for an NRC license citing educational or other worthy goals. My citations of the NRC general license has been to show that the quantities of radioactive materials that it permits people to obtain and possess are not seriously hazardous (and to point out that you can actually obtain and possess them). There is a parallel with the Energetic Material forum where, I submit, few posting there can produce an ATF license to manufacture explosives, or evidence that their projects are sanctioned by the military, FBI, DHS, or the state and local police and Fire Marshal. Did you know that any explosive device is defined in Federal law as a "weapon of mass destruction" (see "18 U.S. Code § 2332a - Use of weapons of mass destruction")? How many home chemists invite the Fire Marshal in for a regular inspection? How many posting on the ever popular phosphorus manufacturing thread have applied for, and received a license from the DEA which is required for everyone manufacturing a List 1 chemical? Here is an interesting excerpt from NRC regulations: "40.4 Definitions. ... Source Material means: (1) Uranium or thorium, or any combination thereof, in any physical or chemical form or (2) ores which contain by weight one-twentieth of one percent (0.05%) or more of: (i) Uranium, (ii) thorium or (iii) any combination thereof. Source material does not include special nuclear material. ... 40.13 Unimportant quantities of source material. ... (b) Any person is exempt from the regulations in this part and from the requirements for a license set forth in section 62 of the act to the extent that such person receives, possesses, uses, or transfers unrefined and unprocessed ore containing source material; provided, that, except as authorized in a specific license, such person shall not refine or process such ore." Notice that it is legal to obtain and possess unprocessed ore - but it is specifically forbidden that you process it. Now look at the United Nuclear page showing ore processing: http://www.unitednuclear.com/extract.htm This is unusual, most of what we might contemplate doing with radioisotopes is not *specifically* forbidden. But this experiment directly contravenes explicit Federal regulations. We have definite documentation of the violation. It is a commercial enterprise, which is pretty much what the NRC regulates. Yet no ax has falled on United Nuclear from the NRC. (Its earlier legal brouhaha was from the Consumer Products Safety Commission who objected to it selling chemicals for fireworks.) Here is another item to consider, the NRC's last annual report for the Office of Investigations, its enforcement arm: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1405/ML14058A899.pdf In 2013 they opened a grand total of 149 cases, roughly 1/3 of them employee discrimination cases, of the rest they seem to be pretty much split between reactor licensing investigations, and licensee false statement investigations. Unlike the DEA, perhaps, which is known to work with local law enforcement to raid suspected one man meth labs, it does not look like the NRC puts any resources into investigating what people with general license materials are doing with them. Also consider the resource of the two agencies. The materials safety part of the NRC not committed to reactor operations is$86 million in FY15 budget and is focused on regulating its thousands of licensees (hundreds of occupational site inspections are performed). The DEA budget is about $3 billion and pretty much all of its resources are in criminal law enforcement, there is simply no parallel in regulation or investigation of private individuals by the NRC compared to the DEA. I submit the NRC does not appear to have any people out busting folks for fiddling with their smoke detectors. [Edited on 15-8-2014 by careysub] careysub International Hazard Posts: 1339 Registered: 4-8-2014 Location: Coastal Sage Scrub Biome Member Is Offline Mood: Lowest quantum state  Quote: Originally posted by neptunium i agree, however Uranium is NOT that expansive! i REFUSE to pay$10 per gram of a metal worth $30 per pound! When nature can provide you with free rocks as much as you can carry! everybody seems to want it when all we really need is a cheap radiation detector and a location to go prospecting.. now i know not everybody can afford to take time off and travel accross the country and roam the Utah desert for rocks but charging$10 a gram (or more! way more!!!) is ridiculous! ...

US producers get paid about $50/lb (as element, not oxide). I'm not sure you can find anything but low grades of uranium ore on the surface in the U.S. are any more. Uranium is still heavily mined, and the "low hanging fruit" was dug up long ago. Surface deposits were prospected for very intensely during the 1950s and early 1960s. If all you can find is 0.1% grade, then even at$10/g your ore would only be worth \$10/kg and you have to dig up several hundred kg to finance your prospecting expeditions just to break even.

[Edited on 15-8-2014 by careysub]
neptunium
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nevertheless...there is a few closely garded secrets out there...

careysub
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 Quote: Originally posted by careysub ... I submit the NRC does not appear to have any people out busting folks for fiddling with their smoke detectors.

I just reread "The Radioactive Boy Scout" (an account that makes ones eyes roll fairly often, it tends to florid exaggeration) - and it confirms my take on the issue of Federal regulation of radioisotopes.

The NRC regulates NRC licensees (businesses and government agencies) that's it, no one else. The NRC did not get involved in any way in the David Hahn case. The only Federal agency that looks into private radioactive holdings/issues is the EPA, and only when they are brought to the EPA's attention.

It would be impossible with low microcurie amounts of radioactive material to create a situation where the EPA would care about what you doing, even if you chose to bring it to their attention.

[The David Hahn case was a bizarre anomaly, first off he had spent years buying and stealing and conning radioactive materials; and the situation turned into the Federal case that it did because of the way he brought his project to the attention of authorities - getting arrested with radioactive materials in his car, then spooking them into activating the state (and in turn Federal) emergency response systems.]

[Edited on 19-8-2014 by careysub]
IrC
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On page two and thus far no real chemistry has been discussed on the subject. Based upon the majority of posts in these two pages thus far, maybe the thread should be moved to 'Legal and Societal Issues '?

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
careysub
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Patience, I am just getting started on this.

Establishing a "manifesto" reviewing the safety and legal risks seemed necessary to kick this off, and reactions posted here (and off-line) support that judgment.

What I would like to see is for a new forum called "Radiochemistry" be created, and the various threads about uranium, thorium, radioactivity, geiger counters, nuclear history (and this one) be moved there.
IrC
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 Quote: Originally posted by careysub Patience, I am just getting started on this. Establishing a "manifesto" reviewing the safety and legal risks seemed necessary to kick this off, and reactions posted here (and off-line) support that judgment. What I would like to see is for a new forum called "Radiochemistry" be created, and the various threads about uranium, thorium, radioactivity, geiger counters, nuclear history (and this one) be moved there.

Have you looked at any of these threads?

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
careysub
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Yep, those are some of the key threads to which I refer.

I would like to see them moved to a new radiochemistry sub-forum.
IrC
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U2U Polverone and see if he will do that. Would be easier than searching since some of the threads are fairly well buried in pages of forums.

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
MrHomeScientist
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 Quote: Originally posted by careysub Now look at the United Nuclear page showing ore processing: http://www.unitednuclear.com/extract.htm This is unusual, most of what we might contemplate doing with radioisotopes is not *specifically* forbidden. But this experiment directly contravenes explicit Federal regulations. We have definite documentation of the violation. It is a commercial enterprise, which is pretty much what the NRC regulates. Yet no ax has falled on United Nuclear from the NRC. (Its earlier legal brouhaha was from the Consumer Products Safety Commission who objected to it selling chemicals for fireworks.)[Edited on 15-8-2014 by careysub]

Something to note is that their primary customer is the DoD, so they likely have the necessary licenses to store and handle "large" quantities of radioactive material.

Great thread so far. I eagerly await the chemistry!
chornedsnorkack
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So... is U poisonous after all?

Is Th?

Would Pu-244 be detectably poisonous?
neptunium
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uranium and thorium like any heavy metal are toxic in milligram to gram quantity, Plutonium is a different story. micrograms are usually enough to have a toxic effect. so yes absolutely detectable.

[Edited on 21-8-2014 by neptunium]

careysub
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 Quote: Originally posted by chornedsnorkack So... is U poisonous after all? Is Th? Would Pu-244 be detectably poisonous?

The tolerable oral intake of soluble uranium is based on its chemical toxicity and is the same as lead for adults: 50 micrograms/kg a day (about 100 mg a year for a 70 kg adult).

Thorium appears to be much less toxic, its tolerable level is set by its radioactivity which is also lower than uranium's, so when I run the numbers it comes out to a surprising 6000 mg a year.
chornedsnorkack
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 Quote: Originally posted by neptunium uranium and thorium like any heavy metal are toxic in milligram to gram quantity,

No such thing as "any heavy metal" - lead is poisonous, bismuth by contrast far less so.

Seems like thorium also is much less dangerous. But thanks careysub for reminding that it is impossible to define toxic amount without knowing the biological lifetime and other such features of the substance....
neptunium
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 Quote: Originally posted by chornedsnorkack No such thing as "any heavy metal" - lead is poisonous, bismuth by contrast far less so.

all things considered .... of course

The Volatile Chemist
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Sometimes (According to Wikipedia's element classifications page) Heavy metal refers to poisonous metals/metal ions. Anyways, is David Hahn's 'work' documented is his book mostly correct?

Careysub, if you have knowledge in radioactivity (and related) your contribution to the Sciencemadness Wiki would be much appreciated!

I prefer test tube size if I'm to go 'small'. Personally a "radiochemistry" subforum would be nice, but I don't think necessary. It seems rather limited.

My write-ups are on here...
http://www.MeltThe.Ga or http://ptp.x10.mx
zts16
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 Quote: Originally posted by The Volatile Chemist Personally a "radiochemistry" subforum would be nice, but I don't think necessary. It seems rather limited.
If it's limited at all, it would only be limited by expense of the materials and regulations that are even stricter than they are for normal chemicals. The chemistry itself, if performed safely, has quite a bit of potential, and is no more limited than non-radioactive chemistry. I think that having the new subforum would be a great idea, and I too am quite eager to see some radiochemistry procedures posted.

Come check out the Official Sciencemadness Wiki
Have a particular topic you're really interested in currently? Why not make a page for it? The wiki can always benefit from more contributors.

My (now defunct) YouTube Channel: Texium
My blog: Texium
careysub
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 Quote: Originally posted by The Volatile Chemist Sometimes (According to Wikipedia's element classifications page) Heavy metal refers to poisonous metals/metal ions.

Often it is used that way true, but would that then include the extremely light beryllium as a "heavy metal"?

 Quote: Anyways, is David Hahn's 'work' documented is his book mostly correct?

Not sure if you asking whether Hahn's understandings of science and his procedures were mostly correct, or whether the book is mostly correct.

I'd have to say both are shaky.

He was stunningly ill-informed, and his efforts terribly misguided (leaving aside the stealing and lying).

If I use myself at his age as a benchmark, I would say he failed to grasp many rudimentary principles at 17, that a smart science-oriented kid could have mastered at 12 or 13 (because at that age I could have set him straight).

He seemed to have no real grasp of the physics - he was practicing more like a form of sympathetic magic, attempting to copy procedures without understanding whether they made sense or not. It was "cargo cult" science.

Ken Silverstein is journalist and does not understand any of this stuff either and regularly gives Hahn way too much credit. There is also an odd dynamic going on in which he interviews adults connected with the case, and elicits words of admiration about Hahn's activities, but what they are responding to is what Silverstein is telling them, not from their own personal knowledge.

Albert Ghiorso reviewed the book and was extremely kind is his review, as befits a giant of radiochemistry reviewing the work of a chemical "script kiddie".
careysub
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Extracting Uranium Ore

Since several time people have requested some actual chemistry here, I will start with some comments about a project I am working on to develop a process diagram for extracting interesting nuclides from uranium ore.

I am still in the research phase - remembering that old adage "A year in the laboratory can save you a day in the library".

Uranium ore is more interesting to extract than thorium ore since it has two ancient nuclides (U-238 and U-235), not just one (Th-232), and both are higher up the periodic table so that there are more radionuclides they can decay into before becoming stable.

From the point of view of the element collector I count five elements of interest to extract from uranium ore:
natural uranium itself (lifetime billions to hundreds of thousands of years)
Ra-226 (1602 year half life)
Pb-210 (20.4 year half life)
Pa-231 (327,600 year half-life)
Ac-227 (21.77 year half life)

Of course, you can just display the original ore chunk and declare all the nuclides known to be therein. But it is more interesting to separate them to the extent possible.

Pb-210 is of interest because it is the parent nuclide of Po-210 (138 day half-life). You can extract Po-210 as part of the process, but in a year or two it will be effectively gone. If you instead extract Pb-210 then you have a quasi-permanent source of Po-210.

The Ra-226 and Ac-227 are both "two for one" wins for the element collector: Ra-226 always producing Rn-222, and Ac-227 decays into Fr-223 (half life 22 minutes).

In researching this subject I found that except for the original work by Mme. Curie the literature on extraction is only interested in one particular product (e.g uranium, or radium, or protactinium) and aren't interested in a flow that will isolate multiple species, so Curie's original work remains very informative.

I don't like the United Nuclear procedure for ore extraction, using the carbonate for the following reasons - it is applicable only to very alkaline ores, which are in a minority; it is less efficient than acidic extraction; most work done on nuclide extraction uses an acidic process flow; and in particular it is not well suited for the tributyl phosphate extraction procedure it promises to later use.

You are better off starting off with an extraction using sulfuric acid. If you do have an alkaline ore then I suggest neutralizing it first with inexpensive HCl and evaporating before commencing with the sulfuric extraction.
neptunium
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i had a book long ago where the work of Marie Curie was detailled and the procedure had all the element extraction...for the life of me i cannot find it !
note that M Curie started with one metric ton of high quality ore and obtain 1 gram of radium giving its standart activity of 1 curie!
1000kg of pitchblend would today cost a small fortune and is way out of reach for any home radiochemist!
not mentionning the fact that your house would pop up on a radiological radar like lighthouse at night.