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 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 138
Your thoughts on nuclear power...Page 3 of 11    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
I wasn't trying to imply that there was anything to worry about <.< I love the idea and want a few of em for my house. NASA should sell them on the consumer market - I bet they'd make more money there than they do from their federal budget.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 139
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/12/2007 3:18:22 PM
Somehow I suspect they are legally prevented from doing that. But, if they would produce an "open source" design, maybe some other people could start making them?

Hardly a nuclear thought, but is a Stirling one, just about any multi-fuel capable heat engine requires a talented mechanic and parts to change fuels. I can see that being optimal for Stirlings, but not necessary. So, if someone had a Stirling powered generator and something like a tornado or hurricane moved through the neighbourhood, there might not be the expected fuel source, but I'm sure there would be lots of burnable stuff like tree limbs. Within the concept of Distributed Energy, I would really like to see neighbourhoods generate electricity (and other forms of work) with Stirlings.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 140
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/13/2007 1:58:48 PM
It's a neat idea in theory. My personal opinion is that the population of Earth is about 6-10 times too large for the amount of technology we now have. To go back even further to your idea, we probably are another 2-10
times too many people. So, let's be conservative on both counts, and say the Earth has 12 times more people than it should. Who gets to choose the 5.5 billion people we need to kill (or let die) in order for your idea to work?
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 142
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/14/2007 5:52:03 PM

We should get rid of necular power altogether because it contaminates the earth and is dangerous and we should rely on natural resources such and the wind and sun for heating and energy. Their are whole towns which are run on natural resources and at least the energy will not run out for future generations.


It's uneducated people like you who REALLY get on my nerves - sorry if this turns into a flame, but you asked for it by posting such an ignorant post!

Let me explain why you are completely wrong and need to go back to elementary school, and I'll use small words for you too :)
Radioactive metals (Uranium) already exist - in essence the earth is ALREADY contaminated. There are even live nuclear reactions going on NATURALLY, that we've discovered in uranium mines, which have been occuring for millions of years without our help. When we mine uranium it's more radioactive than it is when it comes out of a reactor - we are essentially DEcontaminating the earth. No it's not perfect, but it's a lot better than fossil fuels. Spend a morning breathing in the smog from the top of a high-rise in LA and tell me that's safe.

For the record, wind and solar power are also great alternatives - if we covered half of Rhode Island with solar panels we'd have enough electricity to shut down every coal plant in the country. However, you shouldn't discount nuclear power as unsafe just because you believed all the false propaganda about it that you were spoon fed during the cold war.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 143
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/15/2007 12:48:04 PM
Hey, don't get your shorts in a knot. We aren't asking people contributing to this thread to design a reactor, we are asking for their thoughts. Whether they seem to be properly educated or not shouldn't really come into it, they are entitled to an opinion. The one thing I had tried to do, is point out that decisions to go back to older technology often have requirements that we can't live with, like killing off 80+% of the people now living.

Radioactivity is not like mass, it isn't a conserved property. That we dig up radioactive materials does reduce how much radioactivity is left in the ground. How radioactivity comes about, means that we can be left with more radioactivity than we started with, when it comes time to deal with the disposal of the radioactive material we started with (in the ground as an ore).

Most people are not aware of radioactivity, we can't smell it, taste it, smell it or feel it. Even if we tell them that the potassium in their body contains a naturally occurring radionuclide (K-40) that results in their own body being the largest radiation source contributing to their exposure is a foreign concept.

I only know of one natural reactor (Oklo), and it required the U-235 content of natural uranium to be significantly higher than is now found in nature. Unless you are also referring to things like muon catalyzed fission.

I was a little unsure as to your Rhode Island/Coal claim. Insolation is around 1 kW per square meter, so Rhode Island receives about 3E12 W. Peak US Coal production was about 1 billion tons per year, or about 1E12 kg of
coal per year. One kg of coal can't sustain 1W for a year, so your number has a chance of being possible. Heck, it might be true that converting Rhode Island to solar panels might be a better use of real estate, although I would imagine many people would dispute that.

This real estate use argument is one reason why I like space solar power, especially on the Moon. There is just so much more real estate on the Moon than here on Earth, that a person can afford to devote huge tracts of land to something like power production.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 145
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/15/2007 6:21:54 PM
I've never written a "flame" post in my life until that one - it's a real hot-button issue for me.

The ONLY reason nuclear power hasn't completely replaced coal is because so many people can only think of explosions and death and evil when someone mentions the word "nuclear". That kind of fear was partly justified in 1945 and through much of the cold war. However it no longer applies and it's that (now) unjustified fear and misunderstanding that prevents us from progressing. And it galls me to the core that people can be like that - that they simply believe whatever they hear or see on the latest hype and don't bother to do any work for themselves.

For my lack of tact, I'm willing to apologize, but I mean what I say about propaganda ignorance. The only thing I hate more than ignorance is someone who voluntarily remains ignorant.



Heck, it might be true that converting Rhode Island to solar panels might be a better use of real estate, although I would imagine many people would dispute that.


You're probably right - perhaps we should convert Washington D.C. to solar panels instead.

I like the idea of the moon - but how do we get that power from there to here? I've read some stuff on microwave transmitters but that was in a PopSci mag a decade ago.... No a corner of Texas or Arizona desert might be most practical.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 146
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/15/2007 8:15:39 PM
Moon solar power for Earth - Apparently the same technology as used for the shuttle side scan radar can be used to beam power. I heard a couple of guys talking about this at a Space Development Conference a few years ago. One guy was from Houston, he had a robot which could turn the top few mm of soil into solar cells. Only about 5% efficient, but again there is so much real estate up there. The main guy was a physicist, Criswell or something like that.

Steel for nukes - Much of society owes a lot to steel. It is a very useful material. However, for any complex series of requirements, it is doubtful that steel would ever be the best material unless the only (or most controlling) requirement is cost. Twenty five or more years ago, there were lots of people with titles like metallurgist, who only knew a little about a few steels. Now, these people have titles of materials engineer. Of course they are going to propose steel, that's the only thing they know. And a great deal of the knowledge isn't transferable, because most of the properties that make steel useful come from its anomalous magnetic properties. If I asked Norm Abrams (New Yankee Workshop) to make a nuclear reactor, it would end up being the prettiest wooden nuclear reactor you ever seen. That doesn't mean we should make nuclear reactors out of wood.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 148
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Posted: 7/16/2007 8:07:12 AM
More steel - The cost I am considering is the initial construction cost. Occasionally people seem to do life-cycle costs, but disagreements about what is included seems common when this is done. I am not saying that the materials people who work in steel don't know very much. There is a tremendous body of knowledge in materials, and consensus seems to be that nobody can know a significant amount of it. That people tend to specialize in a few steel alloy systems and properties that are commercially important is to be expected. To me, it seems a common major reason why most designs end up specifying steel is that steel is assumed to be construction material from the beginning: a chicken and egg problem. How does one design a structure when the elastic constants, tensile and compressive strengths are free variables?
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 149
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/16/2007 1:50:01 PM

It was mentioned earlier about disposing of the waste in space and then PSUguy said most thought it was to dangerous. I am assuming this is do to potential explosions on rockets releasing the contaminants into the upper atmosphere.

I think that as nuclear power becomes more prevalent that we will engineer more efficient ways of using radioactive material and new ways of recycling it into other systems - ie depleted uranium armor on your M1 Abrams. Not that military uses are the best ones - but it demonstrates that there are other ways to deal with nuclear "waste" than just burying it.
 bazza1965
Joined: 3/6/2007
Msg: 151
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/17/2007 3:58:33 AM
what is nucleur power ??
nucleur power is only another form of heating water !
we still use steam power to turn turbines which in turn drive generators

there are other ways to heat water to create steam without greenhouse gases
and threats of nucleur meltdowns and radiation

Water Hammers or if you would like to call them hydrosonic pumps that use
shockwaves to heat the water to boiling point can be used without any problem
they also can be used to desalinate salt water efficiently without chemicals and greenhouse gas emmissions
But we are still useing old fashioned steam engines !
A nucleur Power Plant is in fact A Nucleur Steam Engine !

Anyone ever heard of Radiant Energy or Zero Point Energy ?

We are not allowed to develop or use free energy as it can not be metered or controlled so companies can not bill you for using it.

Even Fusion Generators if they can ever stabilize the plasma flow and keep it steady are again used to heat water to create steam.

Will we ever get out of the steam age ?
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 152
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/17/2007 5:48:03 AM

I'm curious to know what the general feeling is on nuclear power; specifically, what is the one greatest concern (con) that you have about nuclear power or the greatest benefit (pro) that you see coming from nuclear power and why?


Homer Simpson.

They have unbelievably high standards of safety, and thousands of regulations. 99% of them are ignored.

I watched a program about Chernobyl. They said that it was a REAL China Syndrome, and that it was sheer luck that it wasn't ten thousand times worse.

The plant was built over some land that had an underlayer of sand, and that when the radioactive material melted, it flowed down the pipes, met the sand, melted the sand into glass, and fused with the glass. As a result, the glass caught the radioactive material.

If not for that, it could have gone right down to the lava, and Chernobyl could have been the biggest volcano the world has ever seen.

Even now, technicians who enter are only allowed to stay for 2 hours at a time, FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE. No technician who has stayed there for 2 hours, can EVER COME BACK!

As for pros: it has the greatest possible chance for cheap, renewable energy that I have ever seen. When they learn to make nuclear fission cheaper and safer than other sources, it will be a boon.

Till then, it's just like oil. Another way to control the masses.


Radioactive metals (Uranium) already exist - in essence the earth is ALREADY contaminated.
Puf, it's not the uranium that does the damage, it's the concentration. Consider radiation itself: there is plenty of background radiation in the world and it doesn't kill you. But concentrate all of that radiation in one location, like in gamma rays, and it can kill a man in a matter of days. So, when the uranium is in its natural form, and that is spread out in the ores, it is not that big a deal. But mine it and refine it, and concentrate it, and it becomes a lethal killer.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 153
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/17/2007 4:02:52 PM
Actually, if we are going to "rezone" any real estate for solar arrays, I would suggest the following: Detroit, east Los Angeles, south side of Chicago, Gary/Indiana, Newark/New Jersey, and if the solar array can float, New Orleans. There might be a few other neighbourhoods to add to the list. :-)

I don't think have radioactivity "pushed back" by a solar flare would prove to be a problem. Even from a dilution factor point of view, it would be insignificant. But strapping a bunch of radioactive waste to a directional bomb (rocket) can cause some major headaches if it explodes at certain altitudes.

Sorry, I still would rather see something other than steel. I did a literature survey on technical ceramics back in 1983, and one of the applications was first walls for fusion reactors. So, this is 30 year old data. I believe it was General Electric that looked at 3 different first wall materials: carbon/carbon, silicon carbide and some kind of stainless steel. In the event of a loss of cooling, the stainless steel would flash to 24,000 C (that's right, 24 thousand Celsius), silicon carbide would slowly self heat to about 1500 C, and carbon/carbon would do almost nothing. This huge, unwelcome response from stainless steel is due to the transmutation taking place in the steel, it's heat capacity and its thermal conductivity. Playing games with the chemistry isn't going to change any of those by very much. Yes, the reactions which take place around fusion reactors are different than nuclear reactors. I would imagine that if people spent as much money looking for the best material to make nuclear reactors out of, instead of spending money on how we can make steel work there, they would still find a better material. Besides, IMHO the most important cost factor in a nuclear (fission, fusion or other) reactor is the cost of an accident. Upfront construction costs and lifecycle costs are as important.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 154
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Posted: 7/17/2007 4:16:55 PM
Well, the thermoelectric generators which use Pu-238 are not steam cycle. Some are semiconductor and some are Stirling. It seems to me some work on the charged particles emitted. But short of some way of getting all the nuclei to emit their radiation in particular directions, about all we can do is turn the radiation into heat, and then drive some kind of thermodynamic cycle. Stirling is I think a better option than steam cycle in most cases. Rankine I think has been played around with as well (gas turbine cycle, except the heat source is a nuke).

Meltdowns I believe are caused by the materials we build the reactor out of, not by the materials undergoing fission or being bred to undergo fission. For LWR and probably BWR (Candu?), the problem is zirconium. I understand Chernobyl got involved in making a huge pool of glass. They put boron on the fire to absorb free neutrons and for fire suppression, and boron is a glass former. The carbon that the pile was made of isn't a glass former, but carbon does store tremendous amounts of energy which is released upon annealing. A fire is a good way to anneal it (sic). I don't know what other glass formers were in the core at Chernobyl.

Radiation is everywhere to some extent. K-40 and C-14 are part of living things. Coal fired power plants emit a tremendous amount of radiation, which includes the above and the 3 natural radioactive decay chains. Living at high altitudes exposes you to more cosmic radiation. High altitudes often are near granite. Granite often has uranium in it. More radiation. There is some evidence to suggest that life actually requires some small amount of radiation to help in creating mutations for evolution. Large amounts of radiation are bad (no news there).

As far as I know, zero point energy is an artifact of a poor understanding of physics. That you bring up conspiracy theory to push the idea makes me think so more strongly.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 155
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/18/2007 12:09:10 PM

We are not allowed to develop or use free energy as it can not be metered or controlled so companies can not bill you for using it.


There's no such thing as "free" energy. It's like a free lunch - you just can't get one.


As far as I know, zero point energy is an artifact of a poor understanding of physics. That you bring up conspiracy theory to push the idea makes me think so more strongly.


There have been experiments that have demonstrated a phenomenon currently labeled as "zero point energy", however what exactly "zero point energy" is is about as well understood as "dark matter". They're mostly labels to fill in a big massive blank spot in our knowledge of the universe or to make current theories applicable.

Carbon is really an incredible substance. Seems like almost every day I hear or read about some new way that carbon can be used to make SOMETHING better. I expect to see carbon inundating just about everything in some for or another within the next few decads.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 156
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Posted: 7/18/2007 8:35:40 PM
A couple of thought on rail guns. One, we need to give the projectile enough kinetic energy to get out of the Earth's atmosphere, out of the Earth's gravitational well, and then on a predictable trajectory which is useful to us (not necessarily the Sun). What kind of velocity is needed at the end of the railgun? Can we make a shell that can take that kind of aerodynamic load and not transfer too much heat to the load?

Assuming we can get projectiles and railguns that can hit the performance required. What happens if we have a power fluctuation on launch, and the projectile isn't going to have enough speed? Can we stop the projectile from launching? What if we can't?

With respect to all radioactive waste being in dry casks, I thought at least some irradiated fuel elements were
stored in swimming pools (at reactors, not for people). Reason is, I think that some of the early irradiated golf balls were bags of golf balls lowered into a pool to get a BIG gamma dose.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 157
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Posted: 7/18/2007 8:42:16 PM
I don't think regulations are flouted as much as you suggest, in any jurisdiction. I will admit to thinking they are flouted some, just about anywhere. But, you could look at the various building/electrical/plumbing codes and see the same thing. If being an inspector is just a job with no responsibility, it's easy to just sign off on stuff. If your ass is on the line, it is harder to do that.

One thing that should become possible in the future, is to do like some home improvement shows are doing, and stick webcams on the job 24/7. It will be a long time before image processing and image analysis can verify things are going as they should, but just having the video record will show that the inspector actually did inspect (timelines on inspection record), and will also show the work that was done before and after the inspector was there. It's likely that nobody will have time to view most of this video unless there is a problem down the road, but at least we have a record and know who gets shot for being an idiot.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 158
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Posted: 7/18/2007 8:47:23 PM
If you like reading about nuclear accidents, the first accident that I know of was in Canada. How the cleanup was managed was actually quite instructive. Cleanup started with the boardroom of AECL. People like the President made a single swipe through the accident area, and got a HUGE radiation dose in doing so. But they actually did a small amount of cleanup. As more and more people went through the zone, the radiation fields went down and people were able to spend longer there, and do more "useful" cleaning. At the end, the company's resources were completely used, and soldiers were doing the last stuff. But nobody was sacrificed at any point, they all did what was judged to be a useful amount of work for the fields present when they were there.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 160
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Posted: 7/19/2007 2:30:50 PM
Having a half life of 11 seconds (like F-20) is really nice, wait an hour or so and all the radioactivity is gone. A few isotopes have half lives that are a function of the environment they are in, typically they decay by K electron capture (I believe). For everything else, the only way we presently know of to alter the decay of a radioactive species, is to force it into some other nuclear reaction. But if we toss a mole (6E24) atoms into a nuclear reactor for some reasonable length of time, we might only activate (neutron capture most likely) 1E12 nuclei. On a chemistry or mass basis, we (essentially) haven't altered any of the matter. Now, if we could find a way to modify even 10% of the nuclei, we could probably design a process to "burn" radioactive nuclei. So, part of the idea is that if we don't "permanently" dispose of waste, if we do find this magic we can reprocess all the waste and make it go away. So far, we haven't had much luck.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 161
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/19/2007 8:51:13 PM
Oh, on the solar cell topic. 2007/05 Advanced Materials and Processes has an article on photovoltaics. They give a useful insolation (wrong word?) of about 700 W/m^2 (about 51% of the 1370 that hits the upper atmosphere). The article goes on to state that if you wanted to power the US with solar cells, you need all of Pennsylvania plus all of Rhode Island.

I actually though State College was a nice place, so I wouldn't want to put solar cells there (I went to school at C-MU for a while). The waitress at the restaurant I ate at all the time got married in State College. Pittsburgh, sure turn it into solar cells. :-) I never could figure out how Pittsburgh was the most livable city in the US when I was going to school there.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 162
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/20/2007 6:25:02 AM

The article goes on to state that if you wanted to power the US with solar cells, you need all of Pennsylvania plus all of Rhode Island.


Found this image on wikipedia's article on solar power:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_land_area.png
When I mentioned Rhode Island I was thinking of this image (black spots represent required surface area to completely power a given land mass) and somehow remembered the black spots being smaller >.< maybe I need my glasses checked.
Full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power
One thing I've thought about is floating solar arrays which we could place out off the coasts so as not to cover land surface area which could be used for living/agriculture/industry etc. We'd just have to study its effects on the marine ecosystem to stave off the activists, but it's feasible and probably only marginally more expensive than building them on land.

But since the sun only shines for half a day and the cost of storing that much power for night use would be astronomical (no pun intended) solar power could only at best augment other power sources, which brings us back to nuclear power.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 164
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 10:54:16 AM
Having played the odd game in hot-atom chemistry (Szilard-Chalmers effect), one thing I've wondered about ever since they discovered buckyballs, is this a useful thing for nuclear fuel? Stick a fissile species inside the cage of a buckyball. The fissile species is then soluble in organic solvents like benzene. If the fissile nucleus reacts, it breaks the cage. The fission fragments may break other cages near them, I would hope they wouldn't. But for the most part the fission fragments will either end up as ionic species, noble gases or carbides (reactions with buckyball cage fragments). If this idea has any merit at all, it could make fuel reprocessing quite easy. Whether that is good or bad is another thing. Or, a person could put a breedable species in the cage, and after exposure to a core, we have the now fissile species that can be separated quite easily. Mind you, the buckyball cage would have to be able to withstand the alpha decays that accompany some of these breeder reactions.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 165
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 4:35:20 PM
Arrgh, I think I had a brain fart there. Are there any fissile nuclei generated via alpha decay? Pu-239 and U-233 would only involve beta decay, and I suspect beta decay isn't going to cause any problem to a buckyball cage.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 166
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 7:37:46 PM
A friend told me once that "caging" radioactive material in a buckyball effectively blocks the radiation. Since I changed my major from physics to computer science I really don't have a clue whether this is the case or what special circumstances may be involved however.....

With the myriad types of nanotubes being produced and discovered, it seems to me that it's possible we may discover a species of nanotube that floresces in the visible spectrum when exposed to higher frequency photons. These could be incorporated into the buckyball above so that the radiation from your isotope is essentially converted into a light source. High frequency photo-electric nanotubes would also be quite useful. But this is all dependent upon the reality of my first statement. Wouldn't it be nice...
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 167
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Posted: 7/24/2007 9:14:27 PM
C-60 (the original buckyball) isn't big enough to cage all atoms. Buckyballs (at least the unhydrogenated variety) have most of their bonding as some kind of resonant structure similar to benzene. This resonant structure is apparently the reason why benzene is quite radiation hard. However, bake it in enough gammas, and it still turns into coke. So, being resistant doesn't mean it is radiation proof. I really can't see the buckyball cage as doing a darned thing to a beta. It is just a lonely electron, and it is traveling fast. Now whether a buckyball can contain an alpha particle or a fission fragment is another question.

I can't see a buckyball as having any effect on a gamma photon, but it might on low energy x-rays or Auger electrons.

I had run into another materials paper about nanotubes, and it seemed to me that a person could construct a positron source by putting a nugget of Na-22 or similar at the base of each of an array of nanotubes. There may very well be a tendency to align the propagation direction of the positrons. If there was some way to fix the ground state of all the nanotubes to being the same (nanotubes attached to a graphite plane?), the resulting positron emission might even be correlated from tube to tube in the array.

I would think that you would need a metal atom inside each nanotube in order to get any kind of photo emission. But, perhaps all you need is to mess around with the bonding in each tube. Another paper talked about changing from 6 fold bonding for each carbon atom, to arrays of 5, 7 or 5/7 bonding.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 168
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/29/2007 8:14:58 AM
Buckyballs/fullerenes and radiation.

I am finding references to medical studies involving the ability of fullerenes to absorb electrons from free radicals, and hence cut down on the effect of radiation in biological systems. The only things I am seeing so far with respect to direct interactions with ionizing radiation are a couple of patents, and the patent system is so darned screwy that you can't trust that.

I will keep looking for something on the physics side of radiation interactions.
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