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By Hal Fox, Editor-in-Chief, New Energy News

From: NEN, Vol. 5, No. 7, Nov. 1997, pp. 1-2.
New Energy News (NEN) copyright 1997 by Fusion Information Center, Inc.
COPYING NOT ALLOWED without written permission.


By Hal Fox, Editor-in-Chief, New Energy News

One tenth of a gram of thorium (from a freshly made mixture of thorium nitrate and distilled water) is introduced into the LENT-1 reactor. After thirty minutes of processing, following the protocols provided, the thorium is removed from the solution (in our lab before- and after-processing samples measured 4300 mg/liter and 9.3 mg/liter of thorium.) The disk electrode is radioactive (alpha, beta, gamma, but no neutrons) immediately after processing and gradually decays to less than one-half of the measured radioactivity within a few hours.

Here are the facts: Thorium-232 has a half life of 14 billion years. If the radioactivity were due to plating the thorium onto the electrode, the radioactivity of the thorium would provide the same level of measured radioactivity for months or years. The radioactivity of the disk electrode changes dramatically with time.

Therefore, some skeptics say that the radioactivity can be explained by selectively plating the thorium 'daughter products' onto the electrode. Is this a logical argument? Or, have the skeptics not considered the full experimental evidence?

One gram molecular weight of thorium contains 6.023 x 1023 atoms of thorium. The specific activity (the decay rate per gram per second) of the thorium is about 4071 atoms per gram per sec. resulting in the production of daughter elements. According to an expert, when you make thorium nitrate, "the thorium-228 follows the chemistry of the thorium-232." A handbook of physics and chemistry indicates that the intermediate element radium-228 also has a soluble nitrate. The expert did not suggest what happens to the actinium-228 (however it has a short half life of 6.15 hours and then produces the thorium-228).

Here is a list of the original and the daughter products with their half life values:

Radium-228, Actinium-228, Radium-224, according to the 'Handbook of Chemistry and Physics' do not make highly-soluble nitrates. Radon-220 is a noble gas. Polonium-216, Lead-212, Bismuth-212, Polonium-212, and Thallium-208 also do not make highly soluble nitrates.

Table 1.  Thorium Decay Daughter Products

Element        Half-Life     Alpha(MeV)     Beta(Mev)     Gamma(Mev)

Thorium-232      1.4E+10 y   4.01            -              59(w)

Radium-228       5.76 y      -               0.039          14(w)

Actinium-228     6.15 h      -               1.2           911
                                             2.1           969

Thorium-228      1.91 y      5.42            -              84
                             5.34                          216

Radium-224       3.66 d      5.69            -             240

Radon-220       55.6 s       6.29            -             550

Polonium-216     0.145 s     6.78            -             805(w)

Lead-212        10.6 h       -               0.331         239
                                             0.569         300

Bismuth-212     60.6 m       6.05            2.25           40

Polonium-212   298 ns        8.78            -             -

Thallium-208     3.05 m      -               1.80         2615
                                             1.28          583
                                             1.52          511

Lead-208       Stable

Sources:  Lapp el al., [3], Hunt [4].
The editor is not a skilled chemist. Can a skilled chemist tell us how many atoms of the daughter products will be in solution, after the thorium nitrate (very soluble in cold water) is dissolved and the solution decanted or filtered to remove any precipitates? I would suggest that by making a fresh batch of thorium nitrate, after chemically separating the thorium from daughter products, that the daughter products will be a very small percentage of the thorium for many months.

Even if we assume that there are thorium-daughter products in the solution, here is another hurdle that must be jumped by the skeptics. How does one selectively plate out daughter products (if present) using alternating current? Those experts I have asked suggest that nearly all alternating current is lop-sided and that one side is carrying more current than the other side, therefore plating can take place. Does this mean that with the many experiments that have been made in various parts of the U.S., the lop-sided a.c. always favors the disk electrode in the reactor? In the tests in our lab, we observe no difference in the type of post-processing radioactivity for either the disk or the cylinder electrode.

Here is another intellectual hurdle: The post-processing condition of both electrodes using the LENT-1 reactor is that considerable erosion takes place. The visual evidence is that there is some formation of an oxide layer interspersed with many pits which produces an eroded and rough surface. That does not appear to be any kind of plating that this author has ever seen. Also, if plating occurs, it would also be removed by the continued erosion of the electrode. If plated out, the thorium would then be in the precipitates. Our measurements find very little radioactivity in the precipitates.

Here is another hurdle: After thirty minutes of processing, almost all of the thorium is removed from the electrolyte. Now add another thirty minutes of processing time, consuming about 80 watts of input power (which appears to balance the power lost by radiation of the 375F to 400F reactor). After the reactor cools, the disk electrode is measured for radioactivity. The radioactivity is about twice as high as after a 30-minute processing time. This radioactivity peaks in a few hours and then diminishes quite rapidly over the next few days. The electrode shows further substantial erosion. Why aren't the daughter products eroded off? Where did the additional daughter products come from when the thorium in the solution had already been removed?

Here is another hurdle: In our lab we measured the radioactivity of the cylinder electrode and then, using a 400-grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel, removed considerable material from the inner surface. There were still many erosion pits visible. After washing, wiping, and rinsing with distilled water, the electrode was again measured for radioactivity. The radioactivity measured by an alpha counter (with 31% efficiency) was slightly lower but within the error range. This would suggest that the source of radioactivity was from the eroded pits and not from the surface that had been sandpapered. Plating is usually an area phenomena. Would one suggest that the erosion pits were the primary areas where daughter products are selectively plated?

Boxed Insert:

"Honest, open-minded skepticism is a valuable asset in scientific research. Dogmatic skepticism or intense struggles to protect an outmoded nuclear reaction model is a detriment to scientific research. refusal to even consider the evidence is a sign of intellectual deprivation."

The obvious scientific approach is to submit a radioactive electrode to highly-sensitive measurements to determine what isotopes of what elements are present on the surface of the electrode. This process is expensive but is being accomplished.

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Nov. 14, 1997.