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Title: Plutonium.
Authors: Watson, GM
Issue Date: Jan-1976
Publisher: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Abstract: Discovery of the neutron made it easy to create elements which do not exist in nature. One of these is plutonium, and its isotope with mass number 239 has nuclear properties which make it both a good fuel for nuclear power reactors and a good explosive for nuclear weapons. Since it was discovered during a war the latter characteristic was put to use, but it is now evident that use of plutonium in a particular kind of nuclear reactor, the fast breeder reactor, will allow the world's resources or uranium to last for millennia as a major source of energy. Plutonium is very radiotoxic, resembling radium in this respect. Therefore the widespread introduction of fast breeder reactors to meet energy demands can be contemplated only after assurances on two points; that adequate control of the radiological hazard resulting from the handling of very large amounts of plutonium can be guaranteed, and that diversion of plutonium to illicit use can be prevented. The problems exist to a lesser degree already, since all types of nuclear reactor produce some plutonium. Some plutonium has already been dispersed in the environment, the bulk of it from atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons.
ISBN: 0642997284
Appears in Collections:Scientific and Technical Reports

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