Author Topic: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)  (Read 3537 times)

Offline sanman

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Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« on: 12/08/2023 06:12 pm »
If you haven't heard, a very unusual and noteworthy discovery has been made about the atomic nucleus of Beryllium-10



So that part @ 1:27 is worth looking at again closely.

Beryllium-10 nucleus is dumbbell-shaped, looking like a pair of attached He4 nuclei with their attachment axis being orbited by a pair of neutrons.

(see image below)

I'm wondering if this dumbbell shape has implications for its stability/disruptability.

Since Be-10 has a low atomic number, could it possibly be a candidate for a nuclear fusion reaction?
Could it even somehow be a candidate for fission, in spite of its low atomic number?

Those 2 Helium nuclei look like alpha particles that could potentially be emitted, along with the neutrons, in the event this nucleus was broken apart. But there'd be no other larger fission fragments from such an event, since there's nothing else present in this light nucleus. If it is fissionable, then perhaps its neutron emission count could be lower, similar to fusion reactions. Could that perhaps make it a "safer" nuclear fuel?

We shouldn't overlook these "oddities of nature" -- these potential "hackable exploits" that we might be able to make use of. There could/should be more irregularly-shaped nuclei like this, which may have important exploitable properties.

Also, does anyone remember the buzz about "Quantum Nucleonics" and "nuclear isomer batteries" that happened 2-3 decades ago, due to some (disproven) claims about Hafnium isomer? I think it was Oak Ridge National Laboratories that disproved the claims in an experiment.

EDIT: Here's the Be-10 paper

https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.131.212501

https://physics.aps.org/articles/v16/s167
« Last Edit: 12/10/2023 08:40 am by sanman »

Offline Mark K

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #1 on: 12/08/2023 06:54 pm »
If you haven't heard, a very unusual atomic nucleus has been discovered in Beryllium-10



So that part @ 1:27 is worth looking at again closely.

Beryllium-10 nucleus is dumbbell-shaped, looking like a pair of attached He4 nuclei with their attachment axis being orbited by a pair of neutrons.

I'm wondering if this dumbbell shape has implications for its stability/disruptability.

Since BE-10 has a low atomic number, could it possibly be a candidate for a nuclear fusion reaction?
Could it even somehow be a candidate for fission, in spite of its low atomic number?

Those 2 Helium nuclei look like alpha particles that could potentially be emitted, along with the neutrons, in the event this nucleus was broken apart. But there'd be no other larger fission fragments from such an event, since there's nothing else present in this light nucleus. If it is fissionable, then perhaps its neutron emission count could be lower, similar to fusion reactions. Could that perhaps make it a "safer" nuclear fuel?

We shouldn't overlook these "oddities of nature" -- these potential "hackable exploits" that we might be able to make use of. There could/should be more irregularly-shaped nuclei like this, which may have important exploitable properties.

Also, does anyone remember the buzz about "Quantum Nucleonics" and "nuclear batteries" that happened 2-3 decades ago, due to some (disproven) claims about Hafnium isomer? I think it was Oak Ridge National Laboratories that disproved the claims in an experiment.

Be-10 is radioactive with a  half life of about a million years. It (actually its decay products) are used as markers of cosmic ray density in the past as well as some other things. There is only a trace. It is a higher energy state nucleus and it generally does beta decay to Boron.  It is so rare I have never seen anything on fusion cross section (well I am not very informed on that anyways). You would have to generate it in quantity if it was any good  which would be extremely difficult indeed.
 
  P-Boron fusion is much more discussed.

Offline InterestedEngineer

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #2 on: 12/08/2023 07:00 pm »
Since Be9 has been studied for use in the walls of a fusion reactor, and it activates to Be10, presumably the cross section of the latter has been studied.

I didn't dig very deep into this paper, someone with the interest and time could track down its references

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022311598001172

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #3 on: 12/08/2023 07:15 pm »
Be-10 is radioactive with a  half life of about a million years. It (actually its decay products) are used as markers of cosmic ray density in the past as well as some other things. There is only a trace. It is a higher energy state nucleus and it generally does beta decay to Boron.  It is so rare I have never seen anything on fusion cross section (well I am not very informed on that anyways). You would have to generate it in quantity if it was any good  which would be extremely difficult indeed.
 
  P-Boron fusion is much more discussed.

p+B11 is more discussed because it's an aneutronic reaction.

A reaction from either fusing or splitting Be10 could have low neutron emission count, which is not as ideal as aneutronic for our human needs, but low-neutron could still be quite good too. Most of the energy from reaction products would be in harvestable form (charged He4, gamma rays) while the "slippery" neutron portion of the energy would be lesser.


Since Be9 has been studied for use in the walls of a fusion reactor, and it activates to Be10, presumably the cross section of the latter has been studied.

I didn't dig very deep into this paper, someone with the interest and time could track down its references

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022311598001172

But so if this Be-10 nucleus is irregularly shaped, then it doesn't have a uniform cross-section.

That would ordinarily mean a random distribution of different cross-sections across a macroscopic sample.

But what if we could use NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to manipulate the orientation of the dumbbells?
Could we then control the cross-section according to our desires/needs?

Could magnetism be used to control fusionable/fissile  characteristics(statistics)?
« Last Edit: 12/08/2023 08:12 pm by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #4 on: 12/08/2023 08:52 pm »
Another synopsis:

https://physics.aps.org/articles/v16/s167

Quote
Nuclear Ground State Has Molecule-Like Structure
November 21, 2023• Physics 16, s167
The protons and neutrons in a nucleus can form clusters analogous to atoms in a molecule, even in the nuclear ground state.

Nuclei are traditionally described as spherical blobs without much internal structure, a picture that was supported by the classic shell model. For decades, however, researchers have known that protons and neutrons in some excited nuclei form molecule-like structures in which clusters of nucleons play the roles of atoms. Now experiments by Pengjie Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues provide the clearest evidence to date that nuclei can “clusterize” even in their ground states [1].

Experimental evidence for clusterization was mainly for nuclei with equal numbers of protons and neutrons. These nuclei can partition into superstable alpha particles, which are made of two protons and two neutrons. Adding neutrons changes things, and theory and experiments indicated that neutron-rich nuclei can form clusters in their ground states. The stable isotope beryllium-9, for example, has four protons and five neutrons—the ingredients for two alphas plus an extra neutron. Although experiments with beryllium-9 suggested ground-state clustering, the odd number of neutrons made a theoretical treatment more challenging, and this picture has not yet been verified with state-of-the-art calculations.

Beryllium-10 is unstable but easier to model, so Li and his colleagues sent a beam of the isotope into a solid hydrogen target, causing hydrogen nuclei (protons) to “knock out” alphas from beryllium-10 nuclei. Detecting all three products—the proton, the alpha, and the remaining helium-6 fragment—of this interaction allowed the researchers to directly measure the locations of the alphas in the original nucleus and compare the results with up-to-date calculations. The team showed that the ground state of beryllium-10 is analogous to a diatomic molecule, with two alpha particles acting like atoms and two neutrons orbiting like a pair of electrons forming a covalent bond.

–David Ehrenstein

David Ehrenstein is a Senior Editor for Physics Magazine.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2023 08:53 pm by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #5 on: 12/09/2023 05:49 am »
Also, consider something -- if an isotope is really overweight on neutrons, then it's less stable and thus more able to change, either through decay, or fission, etc. But if those constituent neutrons are more bound up inside He4-like units, then more of the resulting radiation from a fission reaction is going to be in the more benign  form of alphas, whose energy can be more easily harvested.

Offline InterestedEngineer

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #6 on: 12/09/2023 09:06 pm »
Be-10 is radioactive with a  half life of about a million years. It (actually its decay products) are used as markers of cosmic ray density in the past as well as some other things. There is only a trace. It is a higher energy state nucleus and it generally does beta decay to Boron.  It is so rare I have never seen anything on fusion cross section (well I am not very informed on that anyways). You would have to generate it in quantity if it was any good  which would be extremely difficult indeed.
 
  P-Boron fusion is much more discussed.

p+B11 is more discussed because it's an aneutronic reaction.

A reaction from either fusing or splitting Be10 could have low neutron emission count, which is not as ideal as aneutronic for our human needs, but low-neutron could still be quite good too. Most of the energy from reaction products would be in harvestable form (charged He4, gamma rays) while the "slippery" neutron portion of the energy would be lesser.


Since Be9 has been studied for use in the walls of a fusion reactor, and it activates to Be10, presumably the cross section of the latter has been studied.

I didn't dig very deep into this paper, someone with the interest and time could track down its references

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022311598001172

But so if this Be-10 nucleus is irregularly shaped, then it doesn't have a uniform cross-section.

That would ordinarily mean a random distribution of different cross-sections across a macroscopic sample.

But what if we could use NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to manipulate the orientation of the dumbbells?
Could we then control the cross-section according to our desires/needs?

Could magnetism be used to control fusionable/fissile  characteristics(statistics)?

Alas, probably not.  From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_magnetic_resonance

Quote
This occurs when an isotope has a nonzero nuclear spin, meaning an odd number of protons and/or neutrons (see Isotope). Nuclides with even numbers of both have a total spin of zero and are therefore NMR-inactive.

Be10 has an even number of neutrons and protons.  If there's an exception for axially symmetric configurations I'm unaware.

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #7 on: 12/09/2023 10:08 pm »
But what if we could use NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to manipulate the orientation of the dumbbells?
Could we then control the cross-section according to our desires/needs?

Could magnetism be used to control fusionable/fissile  characteristics(statistics)?

Alas, probably not.  From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_magnetic_resonance

Quote
This occurs when an isotope has a nonzero nuclear spin, meaning an odd number of protons and/or neutrons (see Isotope). Nuclides with even numbers of both have a total spin of zero and are therefore NMR-inactive.

Be10 has an even number of neutrons and protons.  If there's an exception for axially symmetric configurations I'm unaware.

Beryllium is Atomic Number 4 in the Periodic Table, so it's got 4 protons, which means 6 neutrons for Be-10. But still net-zero spin, as you say.

It's considered a neutron-rich isotope, as far as ratios go.
But while we may like to exploit the fissile-ness (fissility?) of such isotopes, we don't like the harmful neutron radiation.
Ideally, we'd probably want a fissile material whose nucleons are clustered as much as possible into He4-like quartets, which can be emitted as alpha particles whose radiation is easily harvested.

Can such a nuclear isomer be found?
Has any such nuclear isomer structure ever been speculated on?

Could we find an isomer which has the non-net-zero spin and associated sensitivity to NMR, while also being composed of mainly alpha-clusters?

It seems like space travel would be so much easier if we could just find a better power source that's more energy-dense and also safe. Are we just kidding ourselves by wanting this? Or should we just look harder?

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #8 on: 12/10/2023 12:49 am »
Things that I am hoping to see machine learning algorithms tackle:
New materials/alloys/ceramics for different applications. E.g. you give it the desired properties for the material and it will come up with a bunch of different solutions. I would like to see what machine learning could do with that.
I could imagine something similar for engine configurations, maybe solar panels, fusion power generator configurations (is already happening to a small extent), etc, etc.
I don't think that we are quite there yet for these things, but given the recent advances it could be sooner rather than later.
Still not quite 100% of what I had pondered here earlier, but this is getting REALLY close now:

Quote
AI tool GNoME finds 2.2 million new crystals, including 380,000 stable materials that could power future technologies

https://deepmind.google/discover/blog/millions-of-new-materials-discovered-with-deep-learning/

If DeepMind can find better crystal structures from quantum mechanical calculations, then why can't it find useful nuclear isomer structures in a similar way? It's just different quantum numbers to deal with, right?

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #9 on: 12/11/2023 02:05 am »
If [latest AI] can do _____ , then why can't it do _______? It's just ______, right?

We've seen you deploy this logical fallacy at least twice now.

In general you (still) shouldn't expect AI to be suddenly omnipotent just because it performed one party trick or another.

On the other hand, I'm starting to see how early man elevated the thunder to Godhood!  :D
« Last Edit: 12/11/2023 02:07 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline sanman

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #10 on: 12/11/2023 04:23 am »
We've seen you deploy this logical fallacy at least twice now.

In general you (still) shouldn't expect AI to be suddenly omnipotent just because it performed one party trick or another.

On the other hand, I'm starting to see how early man elevated the thunder to Godhood!  :D

No, no - I wasn't so much pointing to the AI part, as to the idea of quantum mechanical calculations being used to find solutions to these particular conditions where more alpha clusters are present, and where the isomer might somehow be more susceptible to fission that produces more alpha particles than usual.

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #11 on: 12/11/2023 06:26 am »
Fair enough.

AFAIK Be-10 has never been observed to decay by spitting out an alpha particle, right? The data I can find only mentions beta decay. This may be one of those cases where our macroscopic intuitions break down at the quantum scale.



Is it possible for such a decay mode to be energetically exothermic, given the known nuclear binding energies of all possible (permutations of) reactants and products? If not, then we can save a lot of time here by categorically eliminating Be-10 fission/alpha stuff as a possible energy source.   8)

 
« Last Edit: 12/11/2023 06:48 am by Twark_Main »
"The search for a universal design which suits all sites, people, and situations is obviously impossible. What is possible is well designed examples of the application of universal principles." ~~ David Holmgren

Offline kkattula

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #12 on: 12/11/2023 06:44 am »
We've seen you deploy this logical fallacy at least twice now.

In general you (still) shouldn't expect AI to be suddenly omnipotent just because it performed one party trick or another.

On the other hand, I'm starting to see how early man elevated the thunder to Godhood!  :D

No, no - I wasn't so much pointing to the AI part, as to the idea of quantum mechanical calculations being used to find solutions to these particular conditions where more alpha clusters are present, and where the isomer might somehow be more susceptible to fission that produces more alpha particles than usual.

I think you're forgetting about the binding energy curve. 

When heavy atoms fission, the binding energy of the product nuclei is less than the original nucleus, so energy is released.

When light atoms fuse, the binding energy of the product nucleus is less than the original nuclei, so energy is released.

The lowest binding energy is Iron. Fusion above Iron or fission below it, absorbs energy, it doesn't release it.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #13 on: 12/11/2023 04:16 pm »
We've seen you deploy this logical fallacy at least twice now.

In general you (still) shouldn't expect AI to be suddenly omnipotent just because it performed one party trick or another.

On the other hand, I'm starting to see how early man elevated the thunder to Godhood!  :D

No, no - I wasn't so much pointing to the AI part, as to the idea of quantum mechanical calculations being used to find solutions to these particular conditions where more alpha clusters are present, and where the isomer might somehow be more susceptible to fission that produces more alpha particles than usual.

I think you're forgetting about the binding energy curve. 

When heavy atoms fission, the binding energy of the product nuclei is less than the original nucleus, so energy is released.

When light atoms fuse, the binding energy of the product nucleus is less than the original nuclei, so energy is released.

The lowest binding energy is Iron. Fusion above Iron or fission below it, absorbs energy, it doesn't release it.
Sorry, but this is an oversimplification, not a universal rule. You need to look up each nuclear reaction separately.
   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneutronic_fusion
one proton + one Boron-11 yields three Heliums plus a bunch of energy.

Offline InterestedEngineer

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #14 on: 12/11/2023 10:26 pm »
The lowest binding energy is Iron. Fusion above Iron or fission below it, absorbs energy, it doesn't release it.

Do you mean "above it" as in atomic number or as in the periodic table?

kinda confusing the way you worded it.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Beryllium-10 (Fusion? Lightweight Fission?)
« Reply #15 on: 12/12/2023 12:54 am »
The lowest binding energy is Iron. Fusion above Iron or fission below it, absorbs energy, it doesn't release it.

Do you mean "above it" as in atomic number or as in the periodic table?

kinda confusing the way you worded it.
(Most) nuclides with mass less than iron fuse exothermically. (Most) nuclides with mass greater than iron fission exothermically. One exception is  1p+11Boron-->3 4He as I mentioned above.

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