What is plutonium fuel?

What is plutonium fuel?

Plutonium-239 contains the highest quantities of fissile material, and is notably one of the primary fuels used in nuclear weapons. Plutonium-238 has more benign applications and has been used to power batteries for some heart pacemakers, as well as provide a long-lived heat source to power NASA space missions.

Why is plutonium important?

Plutonium (Pu), radioactive chemical element of the actinoid series of the periodic table, atomic number 94. It is the most important transuranium element because of its use as fuel in certain types of nuclear reactors and as an ingredient in nuclear weapons. The element was named after the then planet Pluto.

What is so special about plutonium?

Unlike most metals, plutonium is not a good conductor of heat or electricity. It has a low melting point and an unusually high boiling point. Plutonium can form alloys and intermediate compounds with most other metals, and compounds with a variety of other elements.

What is plutonium uranium?

Plutonium is made from uranium-238. 239Pu is normally created in nuclear reactors by transmutation of individual atoms of one of the isotopes of uranium present in the fuel rods. Occasionally, when an atom of 238U is exposed to neutron radiation, its nucleus will capture a neutron, changing it to 239U.

What kind of plutonium is found in nuclear fuel?

Reactor-grade plutonium (RGPu) is the isotopic grade of plutonium that is found in spent nuclear fuel after the uranium-235 primary fuel that a nuclear power reactor uses has burnt up.

Can a fast neutron reactor use plutonium fuel?

Fast-neutron reactors, of which there are a handful operating today with a half dozen under construction, can use reactor-grade plutonium fuel as a means to reduce the transuranium content of spent nuclear fuel /nuclear waste.

Is the United States able to produce plutonium?

Plutonium pits are a key component for nuclear weapons. Today, the U.S. capability to produce them is limited to research and development pits that are unsuitable for stockpile use. The proposed approach to pit production is driven by several factors:

Which is more radioactive uranium or plutonium?

Plutonium-239, the isotope found in the spent MOX fuel, is much more radioactive than the depleted Uranium-238 in the fuel. Plutonium emits alpha radiation, a highly ionizing form of radiation, rather than beta or gamma radiation.