Getting out in the field
“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member” - Groucho Marx
What are the clubs of this world. We see that the most powerful clubs are also the wealthiest ones. Investors and shareholders have their own clubs. Government parties have their own clubs but they have evolved to be less representative of the people in recent years. Advocacy groups and special interest groups sway elections. These realities chip away at our democracy. The way bills get passed and supported are determined by trading party favors in what is called cronyism. In recent years polls increasingly show public support that rarely matches government legislation.
There are some flaws in the way our governments are formed. The electoral system has minimum requirements to qualify leadership, skills and knowledge that are lacking considering what each position requires. It's a bad idea the fact that government consists of a variety of people who typically get shifted around based on qualifications that would normally be viewed as a mismatch. Their merit is not based on a job portfolio. The selection criteria puts more weight on values like loyalty, diplomacy, and number of years of service. Consequently they can make really bad decisions.
Let's face it. We have complex societies and there is a disconnect with the public about how the government manages themselves. In fact it has become an election issue they call transparency. The idea of being somewhat secretive makes sense if your ministers are all incompetent. Keeping the blunders from being exposed or covered up is easier to accomplish when it is part of the political culture to cover each other's backs.
It got so bad that back in the 1980s that governments started to remove the responsibility of running some departments like Nuclear Energy and Public Utilities and decided to declare them as open for corporate takeover. First it was Margaret Thatcher and more recently it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Because the electoral system has been left to votes by a public that does not know what is happening behind closed doors we see groups forming for a common goal. Advocates, groups or clubs are a natural consequence of people who are not satisfied to let an uninformed public make their decisions. In order to influence change it is easier with a group. Besides, voters only carry influence at election time.
There have been forces that seem to deliberately encourage apathy. If we look at Republican behaviour since President Barack Obama took office, they deliberately encourage division. Polarizing seems to be their goal at any cost. This kind of behavior goes against our instincts. What do they gain? It’s frightening to imagine that apathy is what they are trying to encourage. We don’t know why they do it but we do know the effect it has. It makes it easier to manipulate the votes.
What clubs do we have as members of the public? We have special interest groups. No other country has so many. Statistically, over half the population joins one sometime in their life. In fact many of them have agendas that are driven by perceived injustice or perceived need for change. Many of them are intruders and time wasters with profit and control as their main goal. They block progress and prevent positive change. There are good ones too of course like Unicef and the Cancer Foundation. We need to question the motives of some of the environmental groups that support natural gas and renewable energy but not nuclear energy like the Sierra Club, NRDC, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Earth, Mothers for Peace, Greenpeace, 350.org and Climate Reality.
Sometimes we like to align ourselves with groups/clubs to help protect our rights. And occasionally bills are passed that take away our power. In Wisconsin, starting March 2011 teachers were forced to start living on lower wages. The legislation behind the decision is considered a cost saving measure. Collective bargaining was ruled unconstitutional unless it was to match inflation levels.
But how do we sift through the noise and recognize what matters to us? A psychoanalyst puts us on a couch to say “Tell me the first thing that enters your mind.” It takes a while to cut through the brain chatter but with repeated visits people eventually discover what is blocking their growth or their ability to move on. When we finally do discover what matters to us we become ready to deal with the outside world. We move past the petty emotional blocks of childhood or marital breakup or job loss and get on with living.
All of those young people who play or have played video games and spent countless hours mastering the world they escaped into and conquered have been, ironically, preparing themselves for the fight we now face. This society, like the games they play, has plenty of obstacles, cliques, special interest groups, human rights organizations and lobbyists steering our planet off course. So instead of remaining disillusioned, marginalized, victimized and misunderstood the gamers can get off the antidepressants and give up their escapist habits in favor of fighting a real battle with the goal of doing what’s right for our common home Earth.
Even if we can't be super heroes we need to recognize that there are stewards we can call upon to solve the problems we face. Maybe our individual efforts seem futile but identifying and supporting those stewards will be essential to solving our challenges. Those stewards are the scientists and engineers. Among them are people with vision. We need to empower them. But first we need to be able to learn their language well enough to identify the best problem solvers.
When we finally do decide to wake up and take advantage of the democratic process, how will we discover how to verify information when we are given it. Our network will be an important information source, but it will be important to learn which websites are legitimate. Some of these website domains are set up for the sole purpose of misrepresenting the facts. Not all of them know they misrepresent the facts they are simply part of an unofficial group that reinforces their beliefs. It does not take much effort to lead the gullible astray by spreading and sharing sources of misinformation.
So, how do we learn to recognize when information is reliable. If you are committed to getting the facts there are many sources of reliable information. Wikipedia.org is one of my favorite sources for getting to the bottom of a topic but I have found bias there too. Their pages often give external links and citations and references. You need to be detectives to uncover unjustified bias.
Carl Sagan devoted a chapter in one of his well known books titled “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle In the Dark.” The chapter is called “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.” Sagan outlines steps that make a lot of sense and helps us navigate to the truth.
Many of the members of Energy Reality spend time commenting on some of these websites that allow the misinformation. We try not to encourage debate but simply provide information that is accurate often giving links to places that are more credible.
Are There Dark Forces Out There?
Do you want controversy? Darkness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If we took all of the conspiracy theories seriously we could fill a book on that topic alone. There is plenty of evidence that some corporations are in the habit of backing political parties. The super pac is a perfectly legal way to try to subvert or topple the government:) Failing that you can start a special interest group, fund your lobbyists, seek donations and deliberately set policy based on the wish to continue getting donations from corporations. When financial support is involved a whole web of deception ensues that is multi-layered. Wealth is a convenient asset when it comes to funding interest groups to further your agenda.
Psychologist writer Bruce E. Levine wrote an opinion piece for Huffington Post-1 in 2011:
“the first step in recovering democracy is the psychological courage to face the humiliation that we Americans have neither a democracy nor a republic but are in fact ruled by a partnership of "too-big-to-fail" corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.”
Democracy, transparency and easy-to-find accurate information is an inconvenience to corporations who have profit as a bottom line. Even the Google search engine has been challenged to provide accurate data. But that conflicts with the search engine optimization techniques. I go to the Scholar search engine provided by google and see all kinds of articles, reports and papers cited but only for sale.
Given our choices do we continue to resent how little opportunity is given to us to make a difference to our world or do we stop the self doubt and start relating to people similar to ourselves who care and share ideas. We have a common goal to stop letting corporations and banking institutions rule. We can't just climb into our cocoons and relinquish all of our responsibility.
The press and media outlets succeed in turning the elections into a fake race when the real issue is that corporations rules both parties.
Think of Howard Beal from the fictional film Network when he says “I’m Mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” We have reason to be angry. But what can we do about it? We have to be smart. Nobody can save us but ourselves. We need to use our numbers to make a difference. The press and media are, to a large extent, controlled by the corporations. Knowing this can help us use the media to our advantage. But beware, if we get the media to speak for us the corporations can instruct the media to follow up and target us for ridicule as they did with the Occupy Movement.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.E.A.M.)
We need to catch up on biology, chemistry and physics that belong to S.T.E.A.M. and make the effort to evaluate energy. We need to be certain about what kind of decisions can make a difference in the remaining time left to do so.
What about learning complex science? Is Nuclear Physics so hard to learn? How much do we need? It is complex at the deeper levels but what you need to know is not so far away or hard to find. So between truth and fear lies a lot of fact finding to clear up the misconceptions about nuclear. Once the truth comes out then we can see how the big energy players care more about profits than the environment. Getting a grasp on the science will also help to lighten your view of what is possible and what is not. Common myths like "all radiation is dangerous" can easily be seen to be false by looking at data that compares exposure levels and knowing that radiation is everywhere. (see radiation Chapter)
The documentary film Pandora’s Promise uses a powerful analogy right in the title. What “promise?” Robert Stone did a good job of finding a title that represented a journey of discovery. In a Greek myt, Pandora, the first woman, is endowed with seductive charms and when given a box labeled do not open, she opens it anyway. Out comes all sorts of evil. She manages to close the box before the last item escapes. That last item is “hope.”
The film shows how five environmentalists with an antinuclear outlook discover "hope" in the form of nuclear energy. All the previous assumptions they held started to disappear after inquiring into the real nature of atomic science. The myths were debunked one by one and the future outlook less bleak in the face of climate change.
Nuclear power was a path they never considered until they understood the real danger posed to the planet by climate change and ocean acidification. The fact that China will have double the carbon emissions that the US is projected to have in 30 years and that wind and solar are totally inadequate to bring poor countries out of poverty it is inevitable, if there is any "hope", that it is going to be nuclear energy that will replace coal.
The unwillingness of so many protesters to actually try to understand the science and relative value both economically and environmentally is another example of the human failure. Two nuclear reactors in the US were recently shut down due to market driven factors. Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Vermont Yankee were forced out of business partly because of the existence of cheap natural gas. But the other factor is lack of public awareness. Too many people see the closing of a nuclear power plant as a victory. I am one that feels both angry and sad that fear of radiation, and I mean any radiation is very much part of the North American psyche. There is a huge difference between reality and perception. We need to close this gap.
But the need for the general public to be informed and educated about nuclear energy has never been acknowledged by those who could make a difference. The need for public awareness is still not a phenomenon discussed or explored. Hence the purpose of this book.
Now it makes sense to bring the public, including the gamers, up to speed on the subject of atomic science and how it led to nuclear energy because nobody should be left in the dark worried and confused. At this level governments fail. They don't properly mandate what is being taught. This chapter will try to be your orientation. Let the politicians catch up later.
What About the Science?
Let's start by observing our planet. Have you ever wondered how the center of the earth stays hot and keeps molten lava flowing? The planet is billions of years old. Why has it not cooled in that time? It is the presence of uranium, thorium and potassium changing from one state to another perpetually releasing energy and heat from radioactive decay that causes the rocks to melt. This was only discovered in the last 60 years or so.
The age of planet Earth was first calculated in 1956 using nuclear science by an American geologist Clair Patterson to be 4.5 billion years old and it was using a method known as radiometric dating based on comparing different isotopes of lead. Another trick discovered in the 1940s was carbon dating. It takes the ratio of two different isotopes of carbon (carbon 12 is constant and carbon 14 decays at 50% every 5,730 years) and is used to accurately measure the age of things up to a maximum of 50,000 years. These techniques would not be possible without the advances in nuclear science.
The story of energy can't be told without understanding the role the chemists and physicists. In fact the two types of reactors that will dominate current research and development could be described as requiring a marriage of the two disciplines.
Background and the role of Early Chemists
When Marie Curie decided to do experiments in the late 1800s with a strangely behaving unknown substance, it's high incidence of activity was brand new territory. Little did she know that she was carrying around radium in her pockets. The handling of the materials without protection would lead to her eventual death 30 years later of aplastic anemia at age 66. But her accomplishments give women a reason to be proud. She was the first person and only woman to win the Nobel prize twice. She did the world a great service by dedicating her life to understanding radioactive elements, specifically discovering, naming and adding radium (origin of the words "radioactive" and "radiation") and polonium (named after her Polish heritage) to the table of elements.
Her relatively long life and the long lives of other nuclear scientists show that radiation is not as bad as people imagine. Marie Curie handled the substances of varying purity and quantity daily without protection yet she lived to be a senior. It is true that radium is only found at trace levels (produced by decaying uranium) because natural radium has mostly decayed due to its half life being younger than the planet. What they call primordial elements are only found if their half lives happen to be older than 2 billion years or so. The real damage is done if you eat it or breathe it but our skin is a reasonable block to the radiation that it emitted. The overwhelming majority of nuclear scientists live to an old age without cancer incidence. It is rare that we would ever encounter high dose radiation in our lifetimes. But even if you work with it or near it daily it is manageable and safe when the right procedures for handling it are made. You may recall the safety gear that visitors were asked to wear in news features about Fukushima. The measures being practiced reflect the attitude of public officials practicing caution that is an over regulated safety culture.
Historically, the elusive invisible and atomic universe had been viewed as just individual elements that existed alone and unable to bind and create compounds. Discovering properties of natural elements had been a French tradition going back to 1789 when Antoine Lavoisier catalogued 33 of the atomic tables elements. His insights led to the understanding of compounds that had specific molecular structures.
Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius would further expand that in 1818 calculating the atomic weights of 45 of the known 49 elements including his personal discovery of Thorium. Dmitri Mendeleev of Russia in 1869 had developed what became known as a periodic table of 66 elements ordered according to their chemical properties. This was developed without the knowledge of electron shells or orbitals which did not arrive until 1919.
French chemist Marcellin Berthelot published an important thesis on compounds in 1860 when most chemists believed compounds from organic substances could not be recreated in the lab. Berthelot proved them wrong thus ending the notion of vitalism. He is considered the greatest chemist ever. He was also able to observe something frightening about the power of the atom when he said “Within a hundred years of physical and chemical science, men will know what the atom is. It is my belief when science reaches this stage, God will come down to earth with His big ring of keys and will say to humanity, ‘Gentlemen, it is closing time.
The Early Physicists
The breakthroughs regarding atomic structure made real progress after Albert Einstein’s several discoveries and the proposed models of mathematical modelling based on Brownian motion discovered 28 years earlier by Robert Brown who observed the motion of dust grains in water. Theories formed by John Dalton 100 years earlier would be proven true by Jean Baptiste Perrin who used Einstein’s equations to help prove Dalton was correct. Perrin later was awarded a Nobel prize in 1926. Einstein got his Nobel price in 1921.
Such a web of discoveries and interconnected thoughts led to advancements that would allow us to send pictures back to the earth from Pluto in 2015 and Mars for the past several years. The space travel technology depends on RTG devices that are a type of nuclear battery.
Einstein’s Famous Equation
Nuclear energy was not new it was just new to humans. They started to understand it about 100 years ago. But nuclear energy was around when the first stars were born and the big bang occurred. But this knowledge is relatively new. Einstein lived in a time when nobody understood this yet. That's why his insights are all the more incredible.
E=mc2 means “Energy” is equal to some specific mass at rest multiplied times the speed of light squared. The speed of light is so fast that it is typically a given distance per second. That is 186,000 miles per second. That speed could be expressed as 671,000,000 miles per hour.
What could the mass of an object and the speed of light have in common?
This incredible formula was discovered by Einstein before it was even possible to prove. It does follow that since c is already a very big number, based on the speed of light, that being squared makes it an extra huge amount. Therefore the change in mass must be a small amount but still very significant. So this formula is an equation that demonstrates that it is possible to get a huge amount of energy from a small change in mass. The number c squared 186,000 miles per second when multiplied by itself becomes so very large that even a small change in mass would produce a lot of energy. That small change in mass is in fact measurable at the atomic level.
Somehow Einstein also figured out that nothing could go faster than light. He calculated that any mass to reach the speed of light would require a certain number of joules of energy. So when the big less-stable atoms split and change their atomic weight there is a measurable amount of energy released. That energy is expressed as E=mc2 When Einstein produced his equation atoms were not known to be splitting so his anticipation of what was coming was prophetic, to say the least.
Scratching the Surface of Nuclear Physics
The study of nuclear physics is not everybody’s idea of fun. But some basics are essential to getting a grasp of why nuclear energy is not only a dense energy source but it can be and has been made safe to give nuclear plants the best safety records of all power plants.
One of the polarizing factors in the nuclear industry is the variety of nuclear plants that have been created and the numerous schools of thought that accompanies each design. The versatility of the technology is both a blessing and a curse. But they all have common factors we can summarize here.
Reactors require what is called a fissile element from the periodic table. If an element is fissile it is fissionable. Basically essential to creating energy is fission.
Many of the heavier elements in the periodic table no longer exist naturally. The elements in existence are the lighter more stable elements. That means most of them are not decaying. If they are decaying it is at a very slow pace.
The only naturally occurring source of nuclear fuel is Uranium and most of the uranium we find is in trace amounts that have been transmuted from plutonium (uranium we dig up is a daughter element from decaying plutonium - now essentially gone). Thorium is not a fuel, technically, but later I’ll explain the Thorium Cycle which produces fissile fuel. We’ll come back to this.
Uranium is found in trace amounts and needs processing to be as pure as needed. The ability to create man made isotopes of radioactive elements is partly what is keeping the nuclear industry alive. And although very expensive to build, Nuclear Reactors are still the most efficient electricity producers ever by a long shot.
There are three kinds of reactors we need to consider. For the sake of keeping the investigation into the science within our grasp let’s simplify our effort and look at the most popular reactors, the Canadian designs, American designs and next generation Molten Salt Reactors. The first two represent the majority of existing reactors that are now in 31 countries: France, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Finland, Bulgaria, Armenia, South Korea, Spain, United States, Russia, Romania, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, Argentina, Netherlands, India, Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Taiwan. Egypt and the Arab Emirates are serious about getting them.
The Canadian Reactors are located in Ontario and New Brunswick. The commercial reactors are CANDU reactors. They require a much lower concentration of pure Uranium than American Light Water Reactors (LWR). Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, west of Toronto, is the biggest nuclear power plant (NPP) worldwide employing 3800 workers. It consists of 8 CANDU reactors all in the 730 MW to 813 MW range totalling over 6,000 MW.
The biggest difference between the CANDU and varieties of LWR reactors is the kind of fuel required for their operation. CANDUs do not need to enrich the fuel to high purity whereas LWRs need higher purity. CANDUs use pressurized heavy water to control the reactivity rate. LWRs are a simpler design which are actually a slightly newer innovation that start around 1950 after Alvin Weinberg’s design allowing untreated water as a moderator. The uranium needs to be 3% to 5% U-235 for LWRs and less than 1% U-235 for CANDUs. By the way nuclear weapons require 90% U-235.
Let’s look at actinide properties. We discussed Marie Curie’s experiments with radium and radioactive decay that cause elements to transmute. Radium-236 is one of several radium (element 88) isotopes. It decays to radon gas which is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer. That is why it is recommended to keep your basement air circulating where radon can collect. Its even more important for smokers. Thorium (element 90) and Uranium (element 92) are less radioactive, in fact you can hold thorium and uranium 238 without any risk of harm. Our bodies can easily handle the low radiation levels much to the shock of many antinuclear folks.
Transuranic elements are also actinides but heavier than Uranium (element 93) and more unstable than the lighter elements and no longer exist naturally. They must be created in the lab. Over Earth's history they all decayed or converted to other substances and then vanished. An unstable element is typically “radioactive." The elements that decay faster and have a significant level of decay are more “radioactive” and their decay rate is measured by half the amount of time it takes to vanish. Thus its called the halflife and are usually the most toxic elements.
More on the Physics
Uranium was thought to be getting scarce in the early years of the nuclear industry. That view has changed as the methods for extraction and reprocessing has been successfully performed. The industry has come up with some creative ways to produce fissile Uranium including breeder reactors and the dismantling of nuclear bombs to use the Uranium for fuel. There are even methods proposed to extract uranium from seawater.
We’ve all heard of Plutonium. The word is very familiar to us. It is generally man made by using nuclear fission. Because these elements are unstable they will convert to stable or unstable isotopes meaning they will have an atomic weight more or less near the natural weight plus or minus a few neutrons. For instance 238U is the normal atomic weight of Uranium but they have some 235U and 234U mixed with it. Just trace amounts can weaken Uranium’s fissile ability so Uranium is processed by chemical means either into its useful concentrated U-235 or into depleted Uranium 238 (U-238) which is not fissile but used in weapons ammunition. (note: U-238 can be used as a fertile fuel just like Thorium in Molten Salt Reactors) So a fissile element is able to convert to a new element and in the process releases energy. Note: E=mc2 explains where the energy comes from in a nuclear reaction.
One of the challenges to learning about the science behind nuclear energy is the surprisingly unintuitive realities of how fission works.
All nuclear reactors need fission. Typically they use Uranium 235, Plutonium 239 or Uranium 233 as fuel, all radioactive. These elements are called fissile because they can be used for fission.
When a Uranium atom splits it releases 100 million times more energy than a carbon atom that combusts. This explains why Einstein’s equation is such a big deal and what is meant by density.
Brush up on your STEAM and when you are ready you can start making a difference.
Fissile Uranium has the natural ability to release neutrons which are needed for fission. Uranium is inserted into a fuel assembly inside the reactor core. The uranium fuel is set up under ideal conditions in order to maintain a continuous rate of fission called a chain reaction. The cycle produces more neutrons which in turn are captured by other uranium atoms. The controls in place allow fission to produce a steady source of heat that heats up water and converts it to steam. The steam spins a turbine that creates electricity.
Natural uranium comes out of the ground as a mix of 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7 % uranium 235 (U-235) and is mined in places like Cameco Mines in Saskatchewan. For CANDU reactors it does not need enrichment. It does need to go through a milling process and gets delivered to a uranium refinery. Processing takes place at one of the two known facilities in Ontario. These are designated facilities that convert either to uranium dioxide, for the CANDU, or uranium hydroxide for LWR fuel.
What happens when observing the binding forces in order of the smallest atomic weights to the largest?
The atoms actually reverses their ability to bind and these atoms are described as too large to remain stable. So the ideal binding elements are, no surprise, iron and nickel. But really the study of the elements properties are the key. The elements instability are caused by their size. It’s actually the opposite relationship in gravitational forces of large bodies. The larger the object the greater the attractions. Gravity is ignored at the atomic level. The size of the particles are immune individually. Collectively of course they are indeed influenced by gravity. Warning you can skip this section if you are not interested in the details.
Isotopes of Uranium and Plutonium are the most used in Nuclear Power plants. The atomic number indicates the number of protons in an element. Fission is dependent upon the certain elements being struck by a neutron that eventually produces a new atom /isotope. They are capable of fissioning - breaking apart due to being able to absorb the uncharged neutrons. Every proton in an atom is matched by at least as many neutrons. They make up the nucleus. Actinides (now called Actinoids) are all radioactive and are typically formed by neutron capture and subsequent radioactive decay chains. The order starts at a lower atomic weight (elements 89-103) than Transuranics (93-118) however they also include some of the transuranics (93-103). Thorium has 90 protons and is element 90. In it’s natural state it has an equal number of protons and electrons.
Neutrons are uncharged and very useful. Here’s where the clever idea came from to manipulate the isotopes. Being uncharged they have the ability to penetrate an atom more deeply. The neutrons released by the radioactive elements U235 or Pu239 are typically too fast to be absorbed efficiently by U235 (U-235 is uniquely configured to absorb slow nutrons) but if moderators such as water, heavy water or graphite are added then a chain reaction can be sustained.
When we fission a heavy nucleus, we are really just taking energy that was stored as mass from when some star that went kablooey a kazillion years ago and pushed a bunch of elements together very tightly, all kinds of heavy stuff was made. Since the short range nuclear force can only hold such a big atom together, all we ever find is Uranium since it’s pretty stable. If it wasn’t for the mass explosions, we wouldn’t see atoms much bigger than nickel or maybe cobalt.
Nobody really knows what causes that short range nuclear force but if the big bang really did exist then that bang of the universe changing from a condensed tiny area then massively exploding would retain some of its original properties. Hence the strong binding force by definition is likely related to the that unique primordial moment of unmatched extreme density.
The Closest We can get to Alchemy - the Thorium cycle.
The thorium cycle takes advantage of Glenn Seaborg’s discovery that Thorium can produce U-233. Seaborg with the help of his lab assistant observed that Thorium converts to Protactinium-233 and then decays after 27 days to become Uranium 233.
Thorium fuel has favorable properties that improve performance in a reactor. When used in an aqueous Molten salts melt at a higher temperature than pressurized water and it is safer in reactors because it does not require high pressures that Light Water Reactors and CANDU reactors need just to keep the water in a liquid state that would otherwise become steam. Fluoride salt has some very stable qualities. Fluoride is the salt of choice for Thorium LFTR’s.
Compared to the uranium dioxide(UO2), thorium dioxide (ThO2) has a higher melting point, higher thermal conductivity, and lower coefficient of thermal expansion. ThO2 also exhibits greater chemical stability and, unlike UO2, does not further oxidize.
There is an inevitable quantity of 232U that gets produced during fission. This quantity is sufficient to make it impractical to create weapons grade fuel. It essentially poisons the 233U nuclear fuel therefore it is inherently proliferation resistance. 232U can not be chemically separated from 233U and has several decay products that emit high-energy gamma radiation making it easy to detect.
These high-energy photons are a radiological hazard that necessitate the use of remote handling of separated uranium and aid in the passive detection of such materials. 233U can be denatured by mixing it with natural or depleted uranium, requiring isotope separation before it could be used in nuclear weapons.
Ch. 5 Citations