My project is to build a working nuclear reactor. Not to gain electricity, just for fun and to see if it's possible to split atoms at home. I would be a breeder reactor, and my primary goals is to carry out two main reactions, which is;
Th-232 + n →Th-233 (T½ = 22,3 min) → β → Pa-233 (T½ = 27 days) → β → U-233
U-233 has a T½ of 1 590 000 years, and is fissionable.
And the second reaction;
U-238 + n →U-239 (T½ = 23,45 min) → β → Np-239 (T½ = 2,356 days) → β → Pu-239
Pu-239 has a T½ of 24 110 years, and is fissionable.
Some basic nuclear-physics
Th = Thorium, a naturally occuring element, atomic-number 90, and it is a weak α-emitter (the Th-232).
Pa = Protactinium, atomic-number 91.
U = Uranium, is also a naturally occuring element. Atomic-number 92. The most common isotope is U-238, wich is a weak α-emitter.
Np = Neptunium, atomic-number 93
Pu = Plutonium, atomic-number 94, the isotope Pu-239 is fissionable, and extremly poisonous.
With fissionable isotopes, you can also build nuclear weapons. But that needs huge amounts of the material, 6 kg of Pu-239 or 50 kg of U-235. In this experiment, we only will be able to produce less than a gram.
T½ stands for half-life. Every radioactive isotope has a half-life, and with thats means the time it takes for half of the atoms in the piece to decomposition to another isotope, with emitting their radiation. It can be between nanoseconds to billions of years.
Many of the substances we are going to handle is radioactive. And you should be careful with radiation. The radiation-types are;
α-radiation, contanis of 2 protons and 2 neutrons, it reaches some centimeters in air, and does not penetrate the skin. But it is very dangerous to ingest or inhale it! An α-decaying atom loses 2 in atomic-number, and 4 in total mass.
β-radiation endures of electrons and reaches some meters in air or is stopped by a glass or plate. A β-dacaying atom raises the atomic-number with 1, but the total mass is unchanged (a neutron is transforming into a proton).
γ-radiation is high-frequency electromagnetic radiation (photons), it reaches several meters but can be stopped by a thick concrete wall. γ-radiation occurs more or less in every decays.