Transmutation of Elements
Process & Apparatus for Transforming Elementary Atoms
British Patent # 239,509
Application Date: August 28, 1925
This invention relates to a process of and means for transforming elementary atoms, particularly of uranium and thorium with a view to hasten their spontaneous disintegration and to increase their radioactivity, and the invention consists in subjecting small quantities of the metal in a vaporizing chamber to a very high pressure and temperature and in subjecting the metal vapor to the electrostatic or electrolytic effect of strong, preferably direct currents.
Successful experiments have been made with an electric energy of about 100 kilowatt-seconds per gram of uranium or thorium. The electric current can be used for heating of the metal as well as for the electric splitting up of the atoms.
In order to generate a very high pressure during the heating of the metal and to obviate heat and light radiation as far as possible, a thin filament of metal, weighing about 1 gram, is placed in a duct in a massive block of quartz or granite or other refractory mineral insulating substance. The two ends of the filament are extended through the block and clamped between two thick metal plates which at the same time act as closures for the duct. Terminals are provided on the metal plate for connection to the electric circuit. The duration of the individual electric shocks is generally about 1-2 seconds. After the conclusion of the process, the evaporated metal is recovered mechanically or chemically and it will be found to be much more radioactive than the original substance. This change of property may be regarded as due to a transformation of elements.
The process can be used for the artificial production of radium and meso-thorium, uranium X, and thorium X. Other elements than uranium and thorium may be subjected to transformation in this manner; for instance, mercury may in this manner be turned into gold.
The more the separated metal vapor comes into contact with the pole surfaces and the higher the electric pressure, the greater is the transformation effect. It is advisable, therefore, to employ a heating circuit of low voltage and high amperage, and a separate electrolyzing circuit of relatively low amperage and very high voltage. For this purpose a pair of electrodes having a large surface is arranged in the vaporizing chamber and connected to the high-pressure circuit which, in order to produce a high resistance, includes a Crooke's of Geissler tube.
When artificial metals are to be produced on a large scale, the use of a filament is not practicable as it requires too frequent replacement. It is therefore better ti supply metallic vapor through a valve into the space containing the electric arc and to withdraw it therefrom the same way.
Having now particularly described and ascertained the nature of may said invention and in what manner the same is to be performed, I declare that what I claim is:
(1) A process of transforming elementary atoms, particularly of uranium and thorium, and for producing artificial radium and meso-thorium, consisting in subjecting small quantities of the metal in a vaporizing chamber to high pressure and temperature and in subjecting the separated metal vapor to the electrostatic or electrolytic effect of strong, preferably direct current, substantially as set forth.
(2) A process according to Claim 1 in which the heating is effected by means of current of low voltage and high amperage and the electrostatic or electrolytic splitting up of the atoms, by means of a current of high voltage and low amperage, electrodes having a large surface being employed in the high pressure circuit, the metal, in the form of vapor, being supplied to and withdrawn from the space containing the electric arc, through the medium of a valve.
(3) A device for carrying out the process according to Claim 1, comprising a massive block of stone or other mineral insulating substance having a duct for the reception of a thin filament of the metal to be treated, the duct being closed by metal plates which carry the electric terminals and which clamp the projecting ends of the filament, substantially as set forth.
US Patent # 1,644,370
Method of Artificially Producing Radioactive Substances
( Oct. 4, 1927 )
The object of this invention is to transform materials of relatively low radioactivity into materials of relatively high radioactivity and in general to increase the radioactivity of such materials.
Another object of my invention is to increase the radioactivity of uranium and thorium.
Another object of my invnetion os to accelerate to a high degree the very slow sprontaneous transformation of uranium and thorium.
In general, in the process of my invention, a small quantity of metal to be transformed is heated to a high temperature under high pressure in an enclsoed chamber. The metallic vapor is dissociated, and is exposed either to high electrostatic, unidirectional curents at high potentials. The volume of the chamber is usually large in proportion to the normal volume of the material to be transformed. The currents and high potentials may be employed concurrent with the heating step. I have used on the average approximately 100 kilowatt seconds of electrical energy to produce 1 gram of uranium of thorium.
In order to produce a very high pressure, while heating the metal and to avoid as much as possible the loss of energy by the escape of heat, such as radiation, the metal is formed into a thin filament weighing about 1 gram. The filament is fixed inside a channel formed in a mass of insulating material, such as massive quartz, granite, steatite or other stone or mineral. The two ends of the filament are attached to two large metallic disks which act also as closing means for the channel. These disks bear clamps to which leads for the source of current may be attached. The duration of the current is usually 1-2 seconds. After cooling the metal may be regained either by mechnaical or chemical means.
Tested by different methods the product obtained proves to be considerably more radioactive than the product before transformation. This process can also be applied to the rational transformation of other elements.
The efficiency of the transformation is all the greater the higher the potential of the current. The efficiency is also higher, the more the dissociated vapor comes in contact with the pole faces. In operating this process it is advisable therefore to employ not only a heating current of low voltage and high intensity but also a current of small intensity and high voltage. It is therefore advisable to insert into the chamber a second pair of electrodes of large surface which is connected to a high tension circuit. A Crooks tube and a rectifier tube may be empoyed in this circuit as a high tension resistance.
In operating on a large scale, instead of using metallic filaments, the metal to be transformed is introduced into the chamber containing the electric arc via a valve and is also removed from this chamber via a valve.
Reference may also be had to the accompanying figure for an apparatus capable of carrying out my process.
Referring to this drawing, a is an earthenware jacket or sheathing, in which there is provided a cavity or hollow space b for the reception of the metal to be transformed which metal passes through the cavity b in the form of a filament c or, if mercury is involved, fills the passage b so as to form a continuous conductor from the one metal palte d to the other metal plate e. These two metal plates d and e are fitted with the necessary current terminals.
The above is to be taken as merely illustrative of my invention and the best mode of operating the same and not as limiting the invention which is defined in the appended claims.
[Claims not included here]