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The Manhattan project guys - many of them genious -  applied several methods to enrich U-235 (separate from U-238) without a working reactor. For some reason, they haven't found the cheapest method (read below).

One of the devices they used was the Calutron (They implemented industrial scale uranium enrichment at the Oak Ridge Y-12 plant established during the war and provided much of the uranium used for the "Little Boy", which was dropped onto Hiroshima in 1945.)

This device is smart, but very costly, mostly because of the high-current electromagnets (especially when electromagnet coils are made of silver ;-).

Calutron WITHOUT electromagnet (only electric field). ("ELUTRON" ?)

To separate lighter ions from the heavier, we need to

  • pulse the ion-generation
  • accelerate ions by electric field
  • catch the ions using rotating disk, syncronized to the ion-generator
    • about the same way the sparks of an Otto-engine are syncronized to the shaft position
    • heavier ions will arrive later, to a different position

This way the enrichment process is much cheaper. Of course it is impossible to beat LFTR when it comes to breeding new fuel (U-233 from Thorium and partly Pu-239 from U-238) and burning transuranic "waste". Today it's cheapest to use a working reactor to breed new fuel. But if no lab provides an initial shot, it can be made much easier (and cheaper) than in 1944.


  • The cathode could be a rotating disk (stainless, or platinum or gold plated ?)
  • If we make plasma using spark, the deviation could be prohibitively significant compared to the (intentionally!) low accelerator voltage
    • if using piezo (or other mechanical pulsation ... injkjet head ?) based ejection of the hot UF4 fluid, that could work
    • at worst, pressure-fluctiation ejection and double spark needed: + electrode, the U source in the middle, the - electrode being the rotating disk
  •    Arrange the thing (and rotate disk in proper direction) so gravity works in the right direction (not counter), so the U-238 lands a bit below, U-235 above.

Scrape the enriched (rich in U-235) to collect. Manual step in the beginning I guess.


Other methods

  • gas-diffusion
  • gas-centrifuge
  • ...

Created by: cell. Last Modification: 2009-07-05 (Sun) 12:26:54 CEST by cell.