Isotope-biased materials, or How Our homeland will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90

Isotope-biased materials, or how Russia will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90This eccentric term — "isotope-shifted material" outside the circle of insiders rarely pops up. At the end of August, he again came at the meeting with the role as much as 2-vice presidents fuel element at once. Announced it one of the control group Novouralsk research and design center Sergei G. hamsters. So when one of the days in September, he agreed to change the business lunch for a chat about the prospects of NNKTS and Novouralsk scientific production cluster, I asked the question head-on.

Isotope-biased materials, or how Russia will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90

-That, and the gold can be done? — Well, of course. You take mercury 196Hg, puts it in a nuclear reactor, and pulled out a ding 197Au … To be clear, then on paper it looks like that.

This is back in 1947 did. But at the moment it is not interesting.

— How interesting! This is GOLD! — I sat back on the couch and looked at him, puzzled. Sergey G. seemed somewhat saddened that the conversation about the isotope-shifted material curled to the obvious things such as gold. — So … how expensive and costly. And in general, what kind of gold you can read when there are notable, I would have said, amazing things like -90 zirconium, lead-207, but the same monoisotopic silicon. That's where the real Klondike — Svineets? — Now it's my turn to established puzzled face. In some confusion, I turned to the window to look. There, struggling with its traffic, seething life of a small office street. Cautious luxurious two-storey building, built tightly to one another, creating two impregnable "fortress wall" enclosing securely from the outside world that the media community There is a stamp of a "nuclear shield of the country." The whole industrial city with its streets and squares, shops and kilometer underground tunnels, naikrupneyshee not that of the country, in the world of separating nuclear establishment, the Ural Chemical Plant. Supertechnologies, super-secret enriched uranium … and here a clear lead. — Well Lead Lead strife — apparently noticing my interlocutor continued skepticism — a natural lead, it's a whole cocktail of different isotopes of its 204 th to 208 th, while the latter more than half, and in some ores and its concentration up to 99% of income. And the lead is still fascinating for our nuclear industry? A. And what's the main problem? That's where some of these major problems.

Isotope-biased materials, or how Russia will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90In — the first, the melting temperature and corrosion. In order to lead remained watery and worked as a coolant, it should cool down below 327 degrees Celsius. But maintaining this temperature for all possible situations, the problem is a harsh process. Priplyusuem to this the risk of corrosion, slagging and formation of radiogenic lead, bismuth and polonium. But it is necessary to change the natural lead to the measured isotope 206, and the reactor will breathe more easily — the formation of radiogenic portions vary significantly. Getting to the core, natural lead is a strong dose of radiation that the output it is not entirely lead and bismuth in part. And with bismuth problems as yet to be no. The fact that the coolant loop closed, and means bismuth again falls into the reactor and Irradiating is converted into polonium, but this is the problem. Toxic substances hard to imagine being, and hence, its utilization comes at a huge lot of money. Running in reactor Lead 206, about education in the coolant polonium, and other parts can be unsafe radiogenic forgotten. The risk of beyond design basis accidents, too, can not be discounted, so that the introduction of high-boiling (bp = 2024 K) radiation — resistant low-activated lead coolant does not react with water and air allows heat dissipation at low pressure. And the rule fires, chemical and thermal explosions in the event loop, and all techah steam superheating teplonositelya.Seychas take Lead 208, actually "see-through" — a low neutron capture cross section. He had already planned to be used in fast-breeder reactors, Vyzhigatel actinides. When using it, the efficiency of the reactor-cautery increased by 25%! Lead 208 can also be used in unique devices — spektrometrah.Dalee turn lead to 207. Of all of their own fellow-isotopes it differs a large cross section of electron capture. In terms of radiation safety is difficult to find the best protection, but it is possible to make smaller, thinner and lighter devices that gallakticheskih, reactors of submarines and icebreakers very zhivotrepeschusche.Nu and, eventually, lead 204. The isotope is remarkable in that it is more remote from the radiogenic isotope of lead-210 (the content in the ore is negligible is not a lot) and, accordingly, its content in the separation of a trace on the cascade of GC will be the least because of the large (most) of the mass difference between the isotopes 210 and 204 . Because alpha radiation lead 210 as an impurity in the lead 204 approaches zero. No alpha particles — no failures in the electrical circuits. For the electronics industry, it's just a dream, but not material. And his need for the production of microprocessors alone is estimated at 300 tons per year! According to the law of meanness — it strongly enough in nature, total — 1.4%.

Isotope-biased materials, or how Russia will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90But back to our reactors. In fact, all the internals are made of zirconium, more precisely, its alloys E110 iE635. Zirconium has a very small capture cross section for thermal neutrons, and the highest melting point. And it is not without sin. Just as in the case of lead, zirconium, under the influence of radiation inside the reactor is converted from an unpleasant ability zirconium radioactive 92 zirconium 93, with a half life of 1.53 million years. When out of the core take out the exhaust its "Build", then snap "fonit" for beta radiation at 200-300 RC (maximum permissible level of radiation exposure). Well, where to put it later? Whence and took — a mother cheese-land for ever and ever. So no zirconium napaseshsya.A here if not in the design of fuel assemblies (fuel assembly) use only isotope zirconium 90, we get a very long lasting material. Inside the reactor, it will first go to the zirconium 91, later in the zirconium 92, and only later — in the 93rd isotope. Well — it is not a fact. The possibility that the one the same atom neutron three hits, and with swallowing, is very small. Because zirconium can be used again and again. Saving money just tremendous. Well, about the capture cross section let us mention. Thermal neutrons pass through it without delay, and heat transfer fluid is heated, not the assembly. More uniform fuel burn themselves TVS less deformed, the same high-level waste is 5-10 times less — and that's a huge savings. Sergey G. paused, waiting for my reaction. — It sounds very intriguing course, but that's the main question remains open — HOW? How to get it 90 or zirconium 206th lead? — So it's not a question. How do we get the enriched uranium? That's the same, — Sergey G. nodded toward the window — the whole plant stands. Round day and only does that uranium 235 from the 238-th separate. That the uranium that zirconium, all one — metals. Pretty reincarnate in a suitable metal "volatile" agent ", to drive him into a cascade of centrifuges, and to separate the isotopes of languid light — this puzzle, we decided to have 50 years ago.

Isotope-biased materials, or how Russia will become a monopolist in the production of zirconium 90At the moment, in general a unique situation, and if possible to use it, then we take over the world, albeit in a narrow manufacturing sector, but with massive potential, comparable even with the world market of uranium. With all of this, these materials are needed and after the first successful experience of their implementation need for them could grow dramatically. Here let's break it down. If you look at the isotope-shifted material as a product, it will be seen that the possible need for them there, but the market as such, no. Why not use these metals to this day — as no one produces commercial quantities (volumes required 10s, hundreds, thousands of tons). Question is, why do not create or produce? Since all occupied by separating the creation of the separation of uranium. And here we have the so-called "window of opportunity" in our favor when playing multiple events at once. We have the unique technology of centrifugal separation of isotopes, and we are released under the power to create something else, apart from uranium. Most recently we uncork the champagne at the start in the creation of the ninth generation of centrifuges. A "nine" is not just better than the previous generation, it has the best performance at times. This means that installing one in a chain of "nine", we painless, can not even bring a "seven" and Pobol. But "Seven" are still able to work and work. From the perspective of technology differences we do not have that uranium enrich that lead to impoverish. Currently, isotopes, which we read as above are performed in laboratory conditions in small quantities just some few grams. Naturally, their cost is astronomical proportions. We're talking about the production of hundreds of tons of finished areas, with equipment and trained personnel! It is not necessary, I think, to explain how this will affect the cost of production. Coming on the market, but rather by creating this market, we will become and legislators, and monopolists. Even if the rivals otvazhutsya rush after, or they will have to extricate the power of uranium (for nuclear power plants than if they will work — it is not clear), or to build new facilities from the ground up (and this is a huge finansovlozheniya that will have an impact on the price of the product)! Well, something like that, — Sergey G. reached for a cup of cold coffee already — and you're the voice of the "gold" …

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