View Full Version : Can you make gold in a nuclear reactor?


MCP
08-22-06, 10:44 AM
And is it commercially viable? I'm guessing the 2nd answer is no...

Nasor
08-22-06, 01:34 PM
Yes...radioactive gold.

James R
08-22-06, 09:09 PM
It's not commercially viable.

alain
08-23-06, 01:06 AM
The small numbered elements on the periodic table (ie gold) aren't really prone to radiation, unlike the higher numbered elements such as plutonium

G. F. Schleebenhorst
08-23-06, 11:26 AM
Even if you could, gold would eventually become worthless. So not much point really.

spuriousmonkey
08-23-06, 11:28 AM
It is already quite worthless.

Walter L. Wagner
08-23-06, 01:24 PM
OK, it's worthless. Tell you what. I'll buy all of your Gold for 10 Euros/kilogram, a fair price for such a worthless commodity, OK? Any takers?

sderenzi
08-28-06, 01:11 PM
I seek to have gold in exchange for woman, LOL

Kendall
08-29-06, 03:02 AM
It takes alot more than a neuclear reactor, tempature, pressure, energy I could only guess what else, the best theory I have heard is every element comes from hydrogen and the stars turn elements into other elements, The planets are piles of stardust. I read of scientist's who turned lead into gold but cost a fortune, you would have to create the enviroment of the inside of a star and control it!

pilpaX
08-29-06, 06:06 AM
I read of scientist's who turned lead into gold but cost a fortune, you would have to create the enviroment of the inside of a star and control it!

isnt that called nuclear fusion?

Avatar
08-29-06, 06:23 AM
Yes, and for that you'd need a nuclear fusion reactor.
At this stage all are experimental.
The first of the commercial type would be the international ITER project/reactor.

All the current nuclear power plants use nuclear fission.

cato
08-29-06, 06:32 AM
also, I imagine that ITER would still cost more to produce gold than getting it out of the ground.

Avatar
08-29-06, 07:01 AM
Yes, I too imagine that.

weed_eater_guy
08-29-06, 09:33 AM
but if someone did produce gold commercially and was succesful, it would loose value, but would still be a very good non-corrosive metal for industrial and other applications. it's also almost as good a conductor as silver if i remember right, better than steal or copper. ever wonder why premium A/V cabling has a gold tint to the metal on the plugs?

but yeah, the value would drop, meaning whoever produced it woudl have to constantly make their operation more efficient, by like several hundred percent. maybe it could be done, but it is fusion after all.

and now that I think about it... fusion doesn't make gold like you think it does. once a star fuses iron, it suddenly takes more energy to make fusion happen than will come out of it. period. when iron forms in a star, it's a very small matter of time (minutes) before it supernovas. however, the massive supernova explosion smashes enough to gether to make elements heavier than iron, including lead, uranium, and GOLD. You wouldn't have to replicate the inside of a star, you'd have to replicate the inside of a supernova, the most devistating naturally occuring explosive force mankind is aware of!

entreprenuers, get to it!

mountainhare
08-29-06, 09:42 AM
Reminds me of that Superman episode from the 1950's, where the crooks force that guy to make gold with his new invention. And it turns out that more money is used to make the gold, then you can sell it for on the market!

BACKFIRE!

Walter L. Wagner
08-29-06, 01:33 PM
Of course, you can make radioactive gold quite easily by neutron irradiation of other elements. That's done all the time. Check out the Gold "Flood Sources" used in nuclear medicine for quality control of the gamma cameras.

Kendall
08-29-06, 09:25 PM
what is the difference between neuclear fusion and neuclear fission?

Walter L. Wagner
08-29-06, 10:51 PM
Kendall: Why not go to a dictionary and look it up. Or an encyclopedia. Or Wikipedia.

Maast
08-31-06, 06:35 PM
Fission, atoms are broken apart by high energy neutrons, in uranium and up the periodic table (transuranic elements) the breaking apart of the atom releases energy and more neutrons, which go on to break apart more atoms.

Fusion: atoms are fused together releasing energy and making elements higher up in the periodic table up to iron where it takes more energy to fuse iron atoms than it releases. Example, 2 hydrogen atoms fuse together to make a helium atom, 2 heliums together make beryllium (I think, might be lithium) etc

TimeTraveler
08-31-06, 11:24 PM
Alchemy?

Vega
09-12-06, 01:20 PM
The artificial production of gold is the age-old dream of the alchemists. It is possible in particle accelerators or nuclear reactors. Since there is only one stable gold isotope, Au-197, nuclear reactions must create this isotope in order to produce usable gold.

In a nuclear reactor gold can be manufactured by irradiation of platinum or mercury. Since platinum is more expensive than gold, platinum is economically unsuitable as a raw material. Only the mercury isotope Hg-196, which occurs with a frequency of 0.15% in natural mercury, can be converted to gold by neutron capture, and following K+- decay into Au-197 with slow neutrons.

Other mercury isotopes are converted when irradiated with slow neutrons into one another or formed mercury isotopes, which beta decay into thallium. Using fast neutrons, the mercury isotope Hg-198, which is contained to 9.97% in natural mercury, can be converted by splitting off a neutron and becoming Hg-197, which then disintegrates to stable gold.

This reaction, however, possesses a smaller activation cross-section and is feasible only with un-moderated reactors. It is also possible to eject several neutrons with very high energy into the other mercury isotopes in order to get the Hg-197. However such high-energy neutrons can be produced only by particle accelerators.

Artabanus
06-05-13, 04:13 AM
well ancient alchemists believed mercury and copper rust(oxides) were the main elements to be used to turn into gold. guess they weren't very far off on the topic

Russ_Watters
06-05-13, 10:29 AM
Alchemy?


well ancient alchemists believed mercury and copper rust(oxides) were the main elements to be used to turn into gold. guess they weren't very far off on the topic
Not knowing the difference between an element and compound is pretty far off.

/holy necropost!

kwhilborn
06-05-13, 10:35 AM
simple answer is.

Nothing can be made from nothing, but any manipulation of atomic structure to create a new element would have to be deemed/defined as a nuclear reaction.

@ Artabanus,
Mercury is used by rural miners still in many countries to purify gold. The Gold dust and veins inside rocks/mud/dirt will melt into the mercury and will leave chunks of pure gold when boiled away later. Those Mad Hatters. :xctd:

exchemist
06-05-13, 10:41 AM
The artificial production of gold is the age-old dream of the alchemists. It is possible in particle accelerators or nuclear reactors. Since there is only one stable gold isotope, Au-197, nuclear reactions must create this isotope in order to produce usable gold.

In a nuclear reactor gold can be manufactured by irradiation of platinum or mercury. Since platinum is more expensive than gold, platinum is economically unsuitable as a raw material. Only the mercury isotope Hg-196, which occurs with a frequency of 0.15% in natural mercury, can be converted to gold by neutron capture, and following K+- decay into Au-197 with slow neutrons.

Other mercury isotopes are converted when irradiated with slow neutrons into one another or formed mercury isotopes, which beta decay into thallium. Using fast neutrons, the mercury isotope Hg-198, which is contained to 9.97% in natural mercury, can be converted by splitting off a neutron and becoming Hg-197, which then disintegrates to stable gold.

This reaction, however, possesses a smaller activation cross-section and is feasible only with un-moderated reactors. It is also possible to eject several neutrons with very high energy into the other mercury isotopes in order to get the Hg-197. However such high-energy neutrons can be produced only by particle accelerators.

At last, a definitive answer. Thanks for this.

In summary, one can do it but it is a royal pain in the arse, so cheaper to go and mine some in S. Africa.

KitemanSA
06-05-13, 06:50 PM
isnt that called nuclear fusion? Depends on who you talk to. Many call it transmutation or synthesis, reserving the term "fusion" for the combination of similar sized atoms. By that definition the statement that fusion stops at Fe or Ni is true.

KitemanSA
06-05-13, 06:58 PM
The first of the commercial type would be the international ITER project/reactor. ITER will never be commercial. Indeed, it is doubted by many whether Tokamaks will ever be commercial. It is hard enough to make a $10B 1GW fission plant be commercial. Try being commercial with a $25B 1GW plant.

Dinosaur
06-07-13, 05:04 PM
Gold & almost all of the elements other than hydrogen & helium were produced by fusion reactions in stars. I do not think it can be produced using a nuclear reactor which uses fission rather than fusion processes.

exchemist
06-11-13, 08:26 AM
Gold & almost all of the elements other than hydrogen & helium were produced by fusion reactions in stars. I do not think it can be produced using a nuclear reactor which uses fission rather than fusion processes.

Dinosaur, suggest taking a look at the Periodic Table, where you will notice there are many elements heavier than Gold, some of which might therefore in principle be split to yield it. Then you might care to read the post by Vega, which describes the specific nuclear reactions that might in theory achieve it.

Dinosaur
06-16-13, 09:07 AM
Vega: Is your description of making gold in a reactor known to be valid or is it hypothetical?