Happy Friday, Happy belated Pi Day on March 14th (3-14), and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate that holiday!
The book Chemistry on a Budget contains inexpensive chemistry labs that are useful with easy to obtain materials.
There are two versions of each lab, one with a ten-question conclusion and one with directions for a full lab report. This way the teacher has the option! Each lab is two pages to allow for one two-sided handout.
You can buy this lab book for $23 at amazon.com or lulu.com. It will take 1-2 weeks to get to you -- Order Now. It’s a great resource!
*Some of you have already purchased my lab book – be sure to check out Page 141 !
As published on November 28, 2016,
“The University of Bristol, in England, has developed new technology that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the university has "grown a man-made diamond" that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current. The developers say the innovation could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life.”
“Dr. Neil Fox from Bristol’s School of Chemistry further explained that carbon-14 was chosen as a source material because it emits a short-range radiation (a beta particle which is essentially the nucleus’ version of an electron), that is quickly absorbed by any solid material. Held within a diamond, such short-range radiation cannot escape, especially since we put a thin layer of non-radioactive diamond on the outside. Since diamond is the hardest substance known to humans, there is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection.”
“The team have demonstrated a prototype 'diamond battery' using Nickel-63 as the radiation source. However, they are now working to significantly improve efficiency by utilising carbon-14, a radioactive version of carbon, which is generated in graphite blocks used to moderate the reaction in nuclear power plants. Research by academics at Bristol has shown that the radioactive carbon-14 is concentrated at the surface of these blocks, making it possible to process it to remove the majority of the radioactive material. The extracted carbon-14 is then incorporated into a diamond to produce a nuclear-powered battery.”
“Nuclear reactors generate heat from highly radioactive uranium rods. The rods are placed in blocks of graphite to control the heat flow and nuclear reactions. After years of absorbing nuclear radiation, the graphite blocks become highly radioactive as well. When nuclear power plants are decommissioned, they have to dispose of the graphite blocks.
The researchers realized they could heat the carbon blocks, which causes the radioactive carbon to turn into a gas. This gas is then collected and compressed to form a diamond. This diamond has some cool properties. Because of its radioactive nature, it can generate a small electric current. This requires no moving parts or maintenance, and can last for thousands of years without needing to be replaced.”
Here is a 4:45 minute video produced by the United Kingdom (UK) briefly describing a nuclear power plant, the nuclear waste, and how it is
Remember that only one part of a nuclear reactor (the graphite rods) is being reused and that the spent nuclear fuel rods still have to be contained for a long period of time.
“…a prototype diamond battery that uses an unstable isotope of nickel (nickel–63) as its radiation source.
Nickel 63 has a half-life of approximately 100 years, meaning the researchers' prototype device would still hold about 50 percent of its 'charge' in 100 years' time.
But the scientists say there's an even better source they could work with – and doing so would end up providing a solution for the UK's massive stockpiles of nuclear waste.
The first generation of Magnox nuclear reactors in the UK produced during the 1950s through to the 1970s used graphite blocks to help sustain the nuclear reactions, but the technique comes at a cost.
During the process, the graphite blocks themselves become radioactive, generating an unstable carbon isotope,
The last of these Magnox reactors was retired in 2015, but after decades of nuclear power generation, there's an awful lot of waste byproduct left over, with almost 95,000 tonnes of these graphite blocks needing to be safely stored and monitored while they remain radioactive. And that could be a pretty long time, given that carbon–14 has a half-life of about 5,730 years.
While that means carbon–14 has to be stored for an extremely long time, it also means the material could make for some amazingly long-lasting batteries – if it can be repurposed into the diamond structure, like the team did with nickel–63.
'Carbon–14 was chosen as a source material because it emits a short-range radiation, which is quickly absorbed by any solid material,' says one of the researchers, Neil Fox.
‘This would make it dangerous to ingest or touch with your naked skin, but safely held within diamond, no short-range radiation can escape. In fact, diamond is the hardest substance known to man, there is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection.’ “
“But what about that radioactivity? It poses little threat; in fact, the amount of radiation emitted by the diamond battery is smaller than the amount that is naturally occurring in a banana. The radiation is held within the diamond by a coating of non-radioactive diamond material. Since diamond is the hardest material known, it is well protected. In addition, carbon-14 emits only short-range radiation, which is absorbed by any solid material.
At this point, the amount of power produced by a radioactive diamond is minimal; one diamond with one gram of carbon-14 would produce 15 Joules per day, less than an AA battery. However, with a life expectancy of thousands of years, these diamonds could find a place in devices that can’t easily be accessed for replacement, such as pacemakers and medical devices, or satellites and spacecraft.”
These articles are useful because of their use of the language of Nuclear Chemistry (isotope identification, types of electromagnetic radiation).
Here are other blog posts you might find useful:
02/11/2015 Introduction to Nuclear Chemistry
02/18/2015 Nuclear Chemistry -- Part II
(Fission, Fusion & Half-Life)
02/11/2015 Introduction to Nuclear Chemistry
05/07/2015 Penny Battery
03/26/2016 Nuclear Waste Storage
08/07/2016 Debate about Nuclear Power
*This Blog contains several entries that would be helpful to your chemistry classroom. Check out the Topic List to help you to find past Blog entries.
Also, Write To Me about your successes, challenges, or questions in the Chemistry Classroom.
Remember, buying a copy of the lab book Chemistry on a Budget can be very useful to your Chemistry classroom with labs and class article ideas.
Have a great weekend!