Denaturing plutonium in nuclear bombs makes them unsuitable for warfare

March 12th, 2009 - 1:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 12 (ANI): Washington, March 5 (ANI): In a move which would be taken positively by advocates of world peace, a team of engineers has developed a technique to denature plutonium created in large nuclear reactors, making it unsuitable for use in nuclear arms.

Developed by engineers at the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Israel, the technique involves adding Americium (Am 241) in plutonium so it can only be used for peaceful purposes.

Americium is a form of the basic synthetic element found in commercial smoke detectors and industrial gauges.

The technique could help de-claw more than a dozen countries developing nuclear reactors if the United States, Russia, Germany, France and Japan agree to add the denaturing additive into all plutonium.

When you purchase a nuclear reactor from one of the five countries, it also provides the nuclear fuel for the reactor, explained Professor Yigal Ronen, of BGUs Department of Nuclear Engineering, who headed the project.

Thus, if the five agree to insert the additive into fuel for countries now developing nuclear power - such as Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Namibia, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen - they will have to use it for peaceful purposes rather than warfare, he added.

Ronen originally worked on Neptonium 237 for the purpose denaturing plutonium, but switched to Americium, which is meant for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), such as the one being built in Iran.

Countries that purchase nuclear reactors usually give the spent fuel back to the producer, explained Ronen.

They wouldnt be able to get new plutonium for weapons if it is denatured, but countries that make nuclear fuel could decide not to denature it for themselves, he added. (ANI)

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