Neutron Emission from Cryogenically Cooled Metals Under Thermal Shock (7 pages)
Mark Prelas, now a professor in the university's Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, received funding from the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance at MU. It was created with a $5.5 million gift from the institute's namesake, an apparel tycoon who founded The Jones Group.
Five other research teams are working on energy-related studies through the institute.
In the original experiment, the team created an emitted neutron-recording device and expected to count about 10 neutrons a second. The card's storage was used up in less than one-hundredth of a second. Then, the team used a counter with the capacity to track up to 1 million neutrons and timed it again. They reached a million neutrons in a second.
Sketch of the testing chamber used for the pressure shock experiment. The pressure guage was a bourbon tube with a 1000 psi maximum and an accuracy of 3%. The catch tank was evacuated and used to capture the D2 gas from the test chamber for analysis. The hot water inlet and outlet were used to thermally shock the samples
“This was incredible to us,” Prelas said in an email. “The neutron production went on for five minutes and then I decided to put the device back into liquid nitrogen to shut the reaction down. We thermal shocked the device two more times and each time we produced large neutron bursts.”
Before he could purchase more supplies to continue the work, his research account had been frozen.
With SKINR funding, he re-created the experiment. More technologically advanced equipment has allowed for a better counting system, and in one run, his research team saw neutron emissions at similar levels to the 1991 observation.
Rob Duncan, MU's vice chancellor of research, said a success will “lead to engineering better systems that will benefit humans, but first things first. We've got to understand what this is. The focus clearly has to be on an opportunity to discover new physics and to understand new science. That really is our aim here at SKINR.”
Abstract - During the summer of 1991, intense neutron bursts were observed after temperature shocking titanium chips which had been saturated with deuterium gas. The titanium chips were cooled and loaded with deuterium at 77 K and than rapidly heated to 323 K. The rapid heating produces a large pressure increase inside the crystalline lattice of the host metal. An Event Timer / Counter (ETC) card was designed and developed which counted and kept a time distribution of the when neutron pulses occurred from a helium-3 neutron counter embedded in a paraffin moderator. The experiment produced copious neutron counts. During one cooling and heating cycle, over 2 million neutrons were counted over a 5 minute time period. In subsequent cooling and heating cycles using the same titanium chips, significant neutron bursts were observed with diminishing counts after each subsequent cycle. This paper will discuss the 1991 experiments and the status of ongoing experiments using temperature shocking.
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