Physicists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new method for the automated production of plutonium-238, which will increase its production eightfold.
Previously, a radioactive isotope was mainly needed for nuclear weapons, and now it is used for medical sterilization, artistic restoration, power supply of spacecraft systems and other peaceful purposes. After the end of the Cold War, many governments scaled back their national production programs, although need in radioisotope preserved. ORNL researchers have been making it by hand, but recently figured out how to automate the process..
To do this, they form neptunium-aluminum oxide granules. Neptunium is also a radioactive metal element, and if the granules are further irradiated, the so-called neptunium-238 is created, which quickly decays and forms usable 238Pu.
According to scientists, partial automation of production will increase the annual production of plutonium from 50 g to 400 g. Additionally, the reduction of manual operations reduces the level of potential risks..
Chinese scientists have also made incredible progress in transforming atoms. They were able to turn copper into an analogue of gold.
text: Ivan Malichenko, photo: Oak Ridge National Lab
24. Electrical Double Layer, Size Effects in Phase Change
Researchers have created and tested new layered designs for wireless charging devices that double their power density and reduce weight compared to existing technologies..
Modern wireless charging systems for electric vehicles consist of two charging coils, one attached under the vehicle and the other located at ground level. When they are aligned, the transmitted power charges the battery.
A team of scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory presented a design of a three-phase system with rotating magnetic fields between the layers of coils that works much more efficiently than existing options.
According to the developers, the laminated coil structure transfers energy more evenly, which allows doubling the power density. During the tests, the three-phase system successfully transferred 50 kW of power with an efficiency of 95%. As the system improves further, the efficiency will increase even more..
This study brings the team closer to building a device to charge an electric vehicle in 20 minutes..
In addition to electric vehicles, the technology is becoming more and more popular for charging batteries for gadgets and recently created a wireless charger that can be shaped into any shape.