Fertile material


Fertile material

Fertile material is a term used to describe nuclides which generally themselves do not undergo induced fission (fissionable by thermal neutrons) but from which fissile material is generated by neutron absorption and subsequent nuclei conversions. Fertile materials that occur naturally which can be converted into a fissile material by irradiation in a reactor include:
*thorium-232 which converts into uranium-233
*uranium-234 which converts into uranium-235
*uranium-238 which converts into plutonium-239Artificial isotopes formed in the reactor which can be converted into fissile material by one neutron capture include:
*plutonium-238 which converts into plutonium-239
*plutonium-240 which converts into plutonium-241Some other actinides need more than one neutron capture before arriving at an isotope which is both fissile and long-lived enough to probably be able to capture another neutron and fission instead of decaying.
*plutonium-242 to americium-243 to curium-244 to curium-245
*uranium-236 to neptunium-237 to plutonium-238 to plutonium-239
*americium-241 to curium-242 to curium-243 (or, more likely, curium-242 decays to plutonium-238, which also requires one additional neutron to reach a fissile nuclide)Since these require a total of 3 or 4 thermal neutrons to eventually fission, and a thermal neutron fission generates only about 2 to 3 neutrons, these nuclides represent a net loss of neutrons. In a fast reactor, they may require fewer neutrons to achieve fission, as well as producing more neutrons when they do fission.

A fast breeder reactor, a reactor with little or no neutron moderator and hence utilising fast neutrons, can be configured to produce more fissile material than it consumes, using fertile material in a blanket around the core, or contained in special fuel rods. Since plutonium-238, plutonium-240 and plutonium-242 are fertile, accumulation of these and other nonfissile isotopes is less of a problem than in thermal reactors, which cannot burn them efficiently.


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  • fertile material — noun An isotope (eg uranium 238) that can be readily transformed by the capture of a neutron into fissionable material (plutonium 239) • • • Main Entry: ↑fertile …   Useful english dictionary

  • fertile material — n. material which can be converted into a fissile material by a neutron induced nuclear reaction, as uranium 238 or thorium 232 * * * …   Universalium

  • fertile material — n. material which can be converted into a fissile material by a neutron induced nuclear reaction, as uranium 238 or thorium 232 …   English World dictionary

  • Fertile material — См. Воспроизводящий материал Термины атомной энергетики. Концерн Росэнергоатом, 2010 …   Термины атомной энергетики

  • Fertile material —   Material that is not itself fissionable by thermal neutrons but can be converted to fissile material by irradiation. The two principal fertile materials are uranium 238 andthorium 232.   U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration s …   Energy terms

  • Fertile (disambiguation) — Fertile is the ability organisms, including people or animals, to produce healthy offspring.Fertile may also refer to: *Fertile material, nuclides which generally themselves do not undergo induced fission, but from which fissile material can be… …   Wikipedia

  • fertile — adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin fertilis, from ferre to carry, bear more at bear Date: 15th century 1. a. producing or bearing fruit in great quantities ; productive b. characterized by… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • fertile — /ˈfɜtaɪl / (say fertuyl), Originally US / təl/ (say tuhl) adjective 1. bearing or capable of bearing vegetation, crops, etc., abundantly, as land or soil: a region fertile in wheat. 2. bearing offspring freely; prolific. 3. abundantly productive… …   Australian English dictionary

  • fertile — adj. 1 a (of soil) producing abundant vegetation or crops. b fruitful. 2 a (of a seed, egg, etc.) capable of becoming a new individual. b (of animals and plants) able to conceive young or produce fruit. 3 (of the mind) inventive. 4 (of nuclear… …   Useful english dictionary

  • fissile material — ▪ nuclear physics also called  Fissionable Material,         in nuclear physics, any species of atomic nucleus that can undergo the fission reaction. The principal fissile materials are uranium 235 (0.7 percent of naturally occurring uranium),… …   Universalium


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