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Author: Subject: Quantity of plutonium
j_sum1
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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 01:03
Quantity of plutonium


Russia suspends plutonium deal with US www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37539616


34 tonnes! That is a freaking huge amount. I recall watching a periodicvideos vid on Pu where someone famously spilled Britain's year-long supply of 10 milligrams (or was it micrograms) and by cutting a hole in the desk and burning it to ashes managed to recover 90% of it. Consequently I have always thought of Pu as an element worked with in small quantities -- even though I know it is used in weapons and breeder reactors. But 34 tonnes! Sheesh! That's a whole lot of banger material. Enough to power an awful lot of space probes.



[Edited on 4-10-2016 by j_sum1]




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violet sin
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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 01:29


My late night calculations put that at 1.19 meter cube roughly. 2:24am in my defence if I got that wrong.



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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 02:31


8,000 nukes-worth ... an extinction-level quantity,
or
enough to poison all of humanity

happy days :o

[Edited on 4-10-2016 by Sulaiman]




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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 04:39


A 1.2m cube (or 1.5m sphere) sounds about right.
Not suitable for space probes though, those are powered by Pu238. This is Pu239.




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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 05:47


The critical radius of Pu-239 is about 5 cm and the critical mass is just under 10 kilograms, according to http://www.osti.gov/scitech/servlets/purl/4343045/

So a 1.2 meter cube wouldn't last very long!
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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 06:09


The spill of the entire national supply (and it was probably micrograms) was probably back in WWII when only tiny quantities were available. At first, Pu had to be produced by cyclotron, before the breeder reactor was operational, and the amounts were miniscule. Special techniques for working with and measuring extremely small quantities of material had to be worked out.
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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 06:19


Aww... they just want to make 340 billion RID-6M smoke detectors (assuming that the newer model only uses 0.1 mg of plutonium):

http://www.periodictable.ru/094Pu/Pu_en.html

(Also interesting to note that producing that amount of plutonium required producing 140 kg of surplus neutrons.)

[Edited on 4-10-2016 by careysub]




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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 06:51


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
I recall watching a periodicvideos vid on Pu where someone famously spilled Britain's year-long supply of 10 milligrams (or was it micrograms) and by cutting a hole in the desk and burning it to ashes managed to recover 90% of it.


hey, it could be worse... they didn't have to recover it from their own stomach contents :o:o:o


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A purplish-color liquid that gave off an eerie, animallike warmth when concentrated in larger amounts, the plutonium in the vial had undergone an unanticipated transformation overnight. Some of the liquid had been converted into gas and was pushing against the walls of the bottle. Other molecules were tunneling into the sides of the glass itself.

Unaware of the small bomb he was holding, Mastick snapped the slender neck of the vial. It made a small, popping sound in the quiet laboratory. Instantly the material spewed out of the bottle and onto the wall in front of him. Some of the solution ricocheted back into his mouth, flooding his lips and tongue with a metallic taste.

Not overly alarmed, Mastick replaced the vial in its wooden container. Then he trotted across the hard-packed ground of the technical area to knock on the door of Dr. Hempelmann's first-aid station. He had just swallowed a significant amount of the world's supply of plutonium. "I could taste the acid so I knew perfectly well I had a little bit of plutonium in my mouth," he said in an interview in 1995.



Quote:

Speaking on a secure telephone line from his office at the Manhattan Project's headquarters in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Warren tried to calm Hempelmann down. He thought about the accident for a moment and then suggested that the young doctor try using a mouthwash and expectorant to remove the plutonium from the chemist's mouth. Hempelmann hung up and hurried back to the examining room where he prepared two mixtures. The first was a sodium citrate solution that would chemically combine with the plutonium in Mastick's mouth to form a soluble liquid; the second was a bicarbonate rinse that would render the material insoluble again.

Mastick swished the solutions around in his mouth and then spit them into a beaker. The first mouthful contained almost one-half microgram of plutonium. A microgram of plutonium, which is a millionth of a gram, was considered in 1945 to be the maximum amount of plutonium that could be retained in the human body without causing harm. Eleven more times at fifteen-minute intervals Mastick swished the two solutions around in his mouth and then spit them into the beaker.

After the accident, Mastick's breath was so hot that he could stand six feet away and blow the needles on the radiation monitors off scale. His urine contained detectable plutonium for many years. In one of several interviews Mastick said that he was undoubtedly still excreting "a few atoms" of plutonium but had suffered no ill effects.

When the mouth washings finally were finished, Hempelmann ordered the young man to lie down on a cot. Then he pumped out his stomach several times. Carefully he transferred the stomach liquids into a tall beaker. The plutonium would have to be chemically separated from the organic matter in Mastick's stomach and mouth so it could be reused in future experiments. No scientist at the lab had ever undertaken such a task.

Hempelmann gave the young chemist a couple of breakfast waffles for his empty stomach and some Sippy alkaline powders to be taken during the day. Then he turned and handed him the four-liter beaker of murky liquid.

Go, he said, retrieve the plutonium.


https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/w/welsome-plutonium.html




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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 14:44


That anecdote is a good lesson for anyone engaging in chemistry about being cavalier with safety practices!



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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 14:49


My geiger counters say very little.

Somehow i wish i could make them chirp louder, but they never do.

Probably a Good thing.




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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 15:16


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
I recall watching a periodicvideos vid on Pu where someone famously spilled Britain's year-long supply of 10 milligrams (or was it micrograms) and by cutting a hole in the desk and burning it to ashes managed to recover 90% of it.

I found the reference: https://youtu.be/89UNPdNtOoE?t=15m15s
It was 10 milligrams. But the whole video is worth re-watching if you have not seen it for a while.

Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
Not suitable for space probes though, those are powered by Pu238. This is Pu239.

My immediate thought when you wrote this was [tongue in cheek] "No problem. Just leave some of the neutrons behind." Where is PHDChemist when you need him?


Quote: Originally posted by mayko  

Go, he said, retrieve the plutonium.


I would be hard pushed to retrieve half a milligram of something simple like iodine from 4 litres of murky liquid. These guys were clever.

(And if clever guys can have accidents where they accidentally ingest unwanted stuff -- well, that's food for thought. It does not pay for me to be too cocky. Anything can happen and at any time. I need to remember that when planning experiments.)




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[*] posted on 4-10-2016 at 15:46


I might grab a small lump for the collection :)



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[*] posted on 5-10-2016 at 07:12


34 tonnes!!!

It was a big deal here in Sweden when we gave away about 3,3 kg weapon-graded Plutonium to USA. Police escort and so. But the police didn't know what it was when the escorted the truck with the Plutonium in. New policecar for every municipality, they only had order to escort a truck!




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