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Thread: I need your help on Nuclear fission/power theory!

  1. #1 I need your help on Nuclear fission/power theory! 
    Forum Freshman tdellaringa's Avatar
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    Hello people who are much smarter than me

    My request is a bit unconventional possibly. I write a comic strip called Marooned (link in sig). On Mars, there are martians (obviously) and they have a nuclear power source. What is this nuclear power source?

    Good question. It's something highly advanced - I'm assuming some form of Nuclear Fission - that does not require a massive nuclear plant around it because... because I don't know.

    My strip is a humor/adventure strip, but there is a back story. The Martians have this power source that another entity wants to manipulate. I could just write "blah blah the martians have this great nuclear power source blah blah" but call me crazy, I actually like my stories to have some sort of plausibility to them - regardless of how remote that is.

    So I'm wondering if you could all help me flush this out. I'm not really well versed in Science, unfortunately. (I did read the Making of the Atomic Bomb and greatly enjoyed it).

    What I'm asking if you could help me visualize what the best case, advanced scenario for Nuclear Fission (or possibly something else) would be like in the future. Think of what could be if all kinks were worked out and it became a relatively "simple" (as far as that word could be used) technology in that the average person might be able to safely run a small power plant (say the size of a living room). Assume that any raw materials needed are available.

    Maybe I'm off base and it's some other form of neat power generation other than Nuclear Fission.

    We don't need to be overly scientific here - in fact it's best not to be. All I really need is the general idea of how the system might work so I can continue to build a story around it.

    Hope this request is not too far out of line and might generate some fun discussion.

    Thanks

    Tom


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Let me open with a caveat, I am a simple geologist and not well versed in nuclear physics. That said I would go for nuclear fusion. Currently the experimental models are very large and require almost as much energy input to make them work as they generate. However, I recall seeing a demonstration of a laser in the 1960s. It could fire for a fraction of a second and was generated within a box the size of a large sofa. Now there is one sitting on a small element of your CD player.
    Google tokamak and fusion, it should turn up more background info.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman tdellaringa's Avatar
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    Hey - everyone is qualified to talk speculative fiction

    It's a good suggestion - a toroidal magnetic field containing plasma? NOW we're talking! Think of the visuals that supplies already. Plus, the word/acronym "Tokamak" would make an excellent Martian name (and a nice Easter egg for those who knew what it meant).

    I'll read up on it - but any other suggestions are welcome, and definitely further suggestions/discussion along this line is definitely welcome - I'd like to see how this concept could be "futurized" in that it met its ultimate promise for "cheap" and safe nuclear fusion.
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    Forum Freshman tdellaringa's Avatar
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    The laser theory looks good too. Maybe a combo of the two. So, if I were to massively and ridiculously whittle down fusion to its most basic - would this be correct?

    - You need two nuclei to be essentially crammed together. Because of their positive charge they want to repel each other

    - If they can be thrown together at massive speeds they can be forced together to begin the chain reaction (hopefully controlled)

    I know this is way oversimplified but that's okay for this purpose. What waste product is there in fusion? I want to say I saw a diagram that showed a neutron as waste but I can't find it now.

    So, what if the martians in this case perfected small reactor that was bound by a magnetic field (like tokamak). With a simple base fuel of hydrogen, some highly advanced laser is fired that begins the fusion reaction. This is contained within the magnetic field and used however (not electricity, but some other way).
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  6. #5  
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    The thorium cycle is another possibility because it produces less long lived radioactive waste than conventional uranium fission, uses more abundant thorium, and can breed fuel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    The thorium cycle is another possibility because it produces less long lived radioactive waste than conventional uranium fission, uses more abundant thorium, and can breed fuel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle
    Lots of new fuel.


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    William McCormick
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdellaringa
    The laser theory looks good too. Maybe a combo of the two. So, if I were to massively and ridiculously whittle down fusion to its most basic - would this be correct?

    - You need two nuclei to be essentially crammed together. Because of their positive charge they want to repel each other

    - If they can be thrown together at massive speeds they can be forced together to begin the chain reaction (hopefully controlled)

    I know this is way oversimplified but that's okay for this purpose. What waste product is there in fusion? I want to say I saw a diagram that showed a neutron as waste but I can't find it now.

    So, what if the martians in this case perfected small reactor that was bound by a magnetic field (like tokamak). With a simple base fuel of hydrogen, some highly advanced laser is fired that begins the fusion reaction. This is contained within the magnetic field and used however (not electricity, but some other way).
    Actually in order to bond two elements into a new single element, you have to atomically separate them. Into single atoms. Usually with great heat.

    For example hydrogen exists at room temperature, and one atmosphere, in a molecule of H2.

    If you wanted to make helium you would have to first separate the two hydrogen atoms. From their molecular bond. And then you could with enough heat and pressure cause them to form Helium.

    The force that is really seperating the two atoms of hydrogen creating a molecule of hydrogen. Is electrons. Electrons repel. Electrons repel all things. Protons are actually balls of electrons.

    Ambient radiation, high velocity electrons, run through all things. It is these flows of electrons that run right through matter, in all directions. This pressure or repulsive force, not only keeps atoms from touching one another, but also keeps atoms together.

    What takes place when you get a single hydrogen atom close enough together to another hydrogen atom, is that, ambient radiation suddenly finds an easier path around the new structure.
    A structure that was created with extreme pressure. At some point the repulsion between the two hydrogen atoms is overcome by the external pressure and they move much closer then when they were just a Siamese molecule of hydrogen.

    This new structure alters the flow of ambient radiation, causing the effects of helium.

    Once together, as a helium atom, the external pressure compared to the pressure between the two hydrogen atoms, is greater on the outside then between. That helium atom now finds another helium atom and joins in a molecular bond with another helium atom. Forming He2.

    Don't know if it will make for a great comic strip adventure. It does not have all the buzz words you are used to, "Time dilation", "Neutron", but this was the stuff that made our modern world.

    The heat though is actually created within the hydrogen, during the splitting of the hydrogen molecule. Kind of like refrigeration and air conditioning. When you cause a refrigerant to become a gas, it absorbs heat. As it liquefies or just becomes a compressed gas, it gives off heat.

    It is a very old process called atomic welding. If you create the heat surrounding and within an amount of hydrogen, you can exponentially increase the power output compared to the heat needed from the ARC (Anode, Rectified, Cathode) to cause the separation. Very dangerous to fool around with if you do not know what you are doing.

    The arcs temperature is off the scale, because it is beyond heat. It is a higher energy level emission. It has light and UV. That means that it can create massive amounts of heat if converted. The hydrogen does that well, it converts those plasma rays to heat rays. So does helium. They can both convert them to the red spectrum of heat rays. Both elements can make a massive quantity of heat from a small UV light event.




    Good Luck I hope the honest good guys win.


    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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  9. #8  
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    http://www.Rockwelder.com/Welding/AtomicWelding.pdf

    This is a blown up easy to read PDF. Of the atomic welding page in the previous post.

    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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  10. #9 Unique power idea 
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    How about a rod of uranium with a crystal grown around it. The crystal somehow absorbs the electrons as the uranium breaks down, and produces electricity.
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  11. #10 Re: I need your help on Nuclear fission/power theory! 
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdellaringa
    Hello people who are much smarter than me

    My request is a bit unconventional possibly. I write a comic strip called Marooned (link in sig). On Mars, there are martians (obviously) and they have a nuclear power source. What is this nuclear power source?

    Good question. It's something highly advanced - I'm assuming some form of Nuclear Fission - that does not require a massive nuclear plant around it because... because I don't know.

    My strip is a humor/adventure strip, but there is a back story. The Martians have this power source that another entity wants to manipulate. I could just write "blah blah the martians have this great nuclear power source blah blah" but call me crazy, I actually like my stories to have some sort of plausibility to them - regardless of how remote that is.

    So I'm wondering if you could all help me flush this out. I'm not really well versed in Science, unfortunately. (I did read the Making of the Atomic Bomb and greatly enjoyed it).

    What I'm asking if you could help me visualize what the best case, advanced scenario for Nuclear Fission (or possibly something else) would be like in the future. Think of what could be if all kinks were worked out and it became a relatively "simple" (as far as that word could be used) technology in that the average person might be able to safely run a small power plant (say the size of a living room). Assume that any raw materials needed are available.

    Maybe I'm off base and it's some other form of neat power generation other than Nuclear Fission.

    We don't need to be overly scientific here - in fact it's best not to be. All I really need is the general idea of how the system might work so I can continue to build a story around it.

    Hope this request is not too far out of line and might generate some fun discussion.

    Thanks

    Tom
    You might want to consider something like the RTGs ( radioisotope thermoelectric generators) that are used for deep space probes. They are quite small.

    Here is web sites with some information.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf82.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiois...tric_generator
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdellaringa
    - You need two nuclei to be essentially crammed together. Because of their positive charge they want to repel each other

    - If they can be thrown together at massive speeds they can be forced together to begin the chain reaction (hopefully controlled)
    kinda like your typical martian boy and girl. the parents want to cram them together but because of their positive charge they want to repel each other.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Freshman tdellaringa's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies so far. I think the RTG is too...simplistic for my needs.

    We need to think in terms of the future, where we're assuming most difficulties that exist with fusion are solved. So let's make these assumptions:

    - The only fuel needed is something simple and readily available - like hydrogen or something. (Obviously needs to be available on Mars). Let's assume they can use this massively advanced laser (plasma laser? Does that make sense?) to split the atoms and then push them together or whatever process needs to happen to start the fusion reaction. Keep in mind it's not that important that we get all the technical details of the process correct. It needs to be based on science sure, but this is sci-fi we're talking about - and again we're assuming a future where highly advanced technology is being used.

    Plus, most of my readers won't be very well versed in science either - it's just entertainment.

    - The equipment to make and contain the reaction is small - room size or less.

    - The output of the energy is used in some other form than electricity. So - how might this energy output from the reactor get to where it needs to go *without* wires, etc? Think outside the box... can energy be sent via light? Can it be "called" somehow to come to the vessel where it is needed? (Could a "lightbulb" reach out to the power source and say, hey give me 100 milliboops of power!)

    So help me speculate a bit more. Use your science knowledge, but use your creative brain to come up with something that might have a (tenuous) link back to real science, but is really sci-fi.

    Thanks for all the input so far.

    @William, I appreciate your well explained post - I won't say I quite understood it all! But the point is those explicit details are not really important... I'll never get to that level of detail in a comic strip. (That's why I tried to boil it down to two simple statements).

    Hope I'm not being too much of a pain here - the help has been valuable to help me think and get ideas.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdellaringa

    @William, I appreciate your well explained post - I won't say I quite understood it all! But the point is those explicit details are not really important... I'll never get to that level of detail in a comic strip. (That's why I tried to boil it down to two simple statements).

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Weird-Fantasy-14...2em118Q2el1247


    How about this then?


    That might give you some ideas. I always get good ideas from the past.




    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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