Step 6: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

If you have a geiger counter or a scintillation detector, you can use it to confirm that the sample is radioactive. Since americium 241 emits only alpha particles (and a very small amount of low energy gamma), it is safe if kept in the glass bottle, since alpha particles don't penetrate glass.

Okay,so now you know how to Obtain and Extract  americium :-o
<p>Does anything dangerous happen when you melt Americium-241?</p>
<p>You can buy americium and many other elements on luciteria.com</p>
<p>so that means that half the cost of the smoke detector is for the americium.</p>
Ok! Now that I've extracted Americium, what is it good for in it's simplest form besides a smoke detector? Why would anyone want to extract Americium? Just Curious?
<p>People put them in element collections, like me. Can I ask you, can you weigh the Am241 button for me and to me?</p>
Not much, besides the obvious curiosity factor. Some people like the keep rocks and gems, etc. One fun idea is to try and make your own periodic table display with samples of every element. <br><br>You can use it, in large quantities, to make a neutron source with a sheet of aluminium. The alpha radiation collides the the Al atoms and kicks off neutrons which you can collimate using a lead box with a hole drilled through it. However, you need 1000+ smoke detectors to get that much. And really there's no reason you should be making neutron sources in your home, but making a neutron diffractometer could be quite interesting though.<br><br>It's worth pointing out that you should wash your hands after handling the metal and make sure that you should keep it out of the way of children or anyone who might accidentally swallow it. I doubt the activity of the average smoke detector is particularly high, but ingesting an alpha source can be extremely dangerous if it gets lodged inside you.<br><br>Stay safe, kids and don't underestimate the danger of radioactive sources.<br><br>
&quot;make your own periodic table display with samples of every element.&quot; what are you going to do about fluorine and fermium for example?
<p>Well, for fluorine, you'd have to use either a fluorine salt or some other fluorine compound. Alternatively, there are companies that make periodic table sets with elemental samples, and I believe that some of them use quartz tubes to contain the fluorine and then embed that in lexan/polycarbonate. Others use the salt/compound method of representing fluorine and other highly reactive species.</p><p>As for most trans-uranics, well... GL getting samples, particularly as you get up into the &quot;UnUn&quot;-land.</p>
<p>Normally people use a compound for those, or they just put something symbolic. Realistically there are plenty of elements that you can't get hold of because they have very short half lives and aren't found commonly or at all in nature. So some people limit themselves to the naturally occurring elements of which there are about 90.</p><p>You're not going to get a sample of Francium, for instance, but you could include a sample of Thorite which has a couple of atoms of Francium in it at any one time.</p><p>See http://periodictable.com/Posters/Poster3.2000.JPG</p>
<p>From what I understand, the Am-241 used in these smoke detectors is actually in the form of americium dioxide (AmO2), which is insoluble. That being said, even if it were ingested it shouldn't lead to a significant absorption of Am-241 in the body. It should simply pass through the digestive tract with minimal radiation dose due to gamma rays. It would; however, pose a threat if it were ingested in soluble form. Just to be clear, I do not condone swallowing radioactive material regardless of the physical compound. Just saying, I don't believe it is dangerous if the Am-241 is in the insoluble form of AmO2. Or so I've heard.</p>
The Isotope Americium-241 that is contained in the smoke detectors can be used to detect Radiation by making an Ionization Chamber http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionization_chamber<br><br>Further down in the posts here, you can make a random number generator. This is the same substance in all State Lottery machines in the United States for random number generation. So think of it this way, Every time you buy a quick pick lottery ticket, you are using Americium-241!<br><br>:-)
<p>No, Am-241 is not used to construct ionization chambers to detect RADIATION, it is used to detector ionization chambers to detect smoke or other particulates in the atmosphere.</p>
btw, the radiation of this isotope will not even penetrate your skin
Just to clarify this factual error:<br /> <br /> Firstly, while alpha particles do not travel far in air, and many can be stopped by skin, they do penetrate to a degree.&nbsp; 22 micron thick paper with stop most of the alphas emitted from this particular radionuclide.&nbsp; The higher the energy thought, the further they go.<br /> <br /> Secondly, and most importantly, the Am-241 decays with low energy gamma photons, but do not be deceived, what they lack in energy, they make up for in abundance leading to a very intense gamma radiation release per decay.<br /> <br /> Hopefully, someone has the good sense to know that detection methods are varied, and each has an efficiency for a given type of radiative energy, be it corpuscular or photon.&nbsp; For Am-241, a Geiger counter for example is a TERRIBLE choice.&nbsp; The alpha needs to be measured independently of the gamma by alpha spectrometry.&nbsp; The gamma needs to be measured by either LSC (preferred), or gamma spectrometry (a suitable substitute).<br /> <br /> 1.0 microcurie may not seem like a big deal, but the radiation you aren't detecting is.<br /> <br /> -Meitner
Per http://www.evs.anl.gov/pub/doc/Americium.pdf - Americium is also used as a portable source for gamma radiography <br><br>
I like to get about 12 of them and glue them to a bracelet I put around my balls. It's &quot;tingley&quot;.
your future child will have 3 ears... lucky!
I was just going to ask that very same question! LOL
<p>So, your last comment regarding the Americum, was &quot;The americium itself, in this smoke detector, is plated onto a small button of metal. Other detectors I have disassembled have the americium plated onto a small disc.&quot; And then you said, &quot;it is safe if kept in the glass bottle,&quot; but there is no picture of any glass bottle, or anything beyond the metal disc. How was the reader supposed to know what glass bottle you're talking about?</p>
<p>Any glass bottle should work. Am241 emits mostly alpha rays, which can be blocked by paper almost entirely.</p>
<p>Hi I have a question: how much does the button of Am241 weigh? I would like to know because assuming there are 3 trillion atoms added each year, and I have an old one from 2006. Using this I probably have about 30 trillion atoms of Np217. Then I want to do an equation to find the number of atoms in the button and figure out the percentage of Np217 in the button. Thanks for your time and consideration. Please answer it would mean a lot to me...:)</p>
<p>It also emits beta particles as well</p>
<p>Careful guys. Taking off the radioactive source from any smoke detector may be illigal in your country. In Canada it is a Fderal crime.</p>
Why do they call it &quot;Americium&quot;? Why not &quot;Britishium&quot; or &quot;Spanishium&quot; or &quot;Chinesium&quot; or &quot;Russium&quot; or &quot;Someothercountrium&quot;? If it was named after an older country, would it have a longer half life? What if it were named after a really unstable country? Never underestimate the power of names!
I believe it is called Americium because it was first synthesized in America. Actually (correct me if I'm wrong) it was one of three elements first synthesized at UC Berkley: Americium, Californium, and Berkelium. There was an element named after Russia too: Darmstadtium.
<p>Correct! It was first discovered in the United States by Glenn T. Seaborg (as lead investigator/principal investigator) and his research group at UC Berkeley Rad-Lab. Indeed, as the group discovered it, they were permitted to nominate the name they wished it to be known by (subject to final IUPAC acceptance). It is pronounced am-er-ISH-ee-em.</p>
My bad, the Russian element was Dubnium not Darmstadtium.
<p>Actually there are a few elements named after countries:</p><p>Germanium, Ruthenium, Polonium</p>
Yes, Darmstadt is in Germany.
Yes! Iranium! Sounds perfect! Time to become a physicist, discover element 119 just so I can call it &quot;Iranium&quot;.
hahaha...give me credit tho...ill have to sue if you dont!! lol
Indeed. It will probably be int the 130's by the time I get around to it, though.
letsmakeitdoabarrelrolloffaroofium <br>LOL
LMFAO x 2 !!!! <br>'Well-Said !'
because the discoverer gets to name it<br>
Given that ALL the countries in the &quot;Americas&quot; are unstable, you may be onto something here. Africium just doesn't have the same ring to it. If you want something that's &quot;European&quot; and very unstable, try Greecium.
It was named after the Americas not the United States of America.
<p>You should probably give credit to the website you copied this entire set of text and images from. Customarily, people cite information that is not their property.</p><p>http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/echem/elements/elements.html</p>
Do you, the editors at Instructables.com, really think it is a good idea to give instructions to impressionable script-kiddies on how to liberate a radioactive substance, even though it is only an Alpha emitter, with no apparent concern for their health or the health of the people that may come in contact with them or the products of their &quot;experiments&quot;? Even though Americium is &quot;just&quot; and Alpha emitter, Alpha particles can cause cellular damage including cancers. All it takes is the tiniest dust-like flake to be ingested or inhaled to cause serious, possibly life threatening damage. <br><br>Here is the link to the EPA warning on Americium http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/americium.html<br><br>Once in the body, americium-241 tends to concentrate in the bone, liver, and muscle.<br>Americium-241 poses a significant risk if ingested (swallowed) or inhaled. It can stay in the body for decades and continue to expose the surrounding tissues to both alpha and gamma radiation, increasing the risk of developing cancer. Americium-241 also poses a cancer risk to all organs of the body from direct external exposure to its gamma radiation. <br>Exposure to any significant amount of Am-241 is unlikely under normal circumstances. (&quot;Normal circumstances&quot; do not include trying to access or remove the Am-241 source in a smoke detector!)
<p>While I appreciate your sentiment, I don't think you should be pulling out the &quot;do the editors at instructables think that...&quot; card here.<br>For example, there are a lot of projects on here that use MDF (Medium-density fibreboard) The dust from that, like asbestos, when it gets in your lungs or nose can cause cancer.<br> I know most of the articles on here say you should wear a dust mask, and list the precautions that should be taken. The same &quot;impressionable script-kiddies&quot; could start working with MDF and ignore those precautions too.... should all those instructables be taken down?<br> Then there are the ones that use fire, high voltages, water.... how many people are killed by fire, electrocution and drowning each year?<br></p><p>If people are stupid enough to act stupidly, well... there are the Darwin Awards for that.<br>If kiddies are too young to understand the danger, and do something irresponsible after reading something on the internet, then the question needs to be asked, what are their irresponsible parents doing? Not supervising them? Not teaching them to understand that some things are dangerous and if you read something that says here are the dangers, here are the precautions, then you should act accordingly?<br>...and if children are too young to understand that last concept, then the parents should still be supervising them.<br>The world is a dangerous place. Covering everything in bubble wrap is not the answer. The world is also a fascinating place. Which you can't see and learn about through layers of bubble wrap.</p>
&quot;just an alpha emitter&quot; , alpha emitters are nasty(very) and so is alpha radiation but as long as you avoid any part of your body being within a few centimetres of the source for more than a few seconds you ought to be fine. radioactivity is a common natural phenomenon, we evolved to deal with background amounts so the amount from 1 detector may as well be harmless.
Ah yes...THE best use of old smoke detectors:<br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html" rel="nofollow">The Radioactive Boyscout</a><br /> <br />
Oh god, not him!
I just checked Wolfram|Alpha and it says that you would need 66kg of Americium to obtain critical mass, and that's assuming its 100% pure, which this isn't. So no chance of making an atomic bomb with this stuff.
i attempted to use the americium from a smoke alarm to create electrical power (detailed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reNBFQ4Rj4U ) but achieved only a pitifully low amount of power(even then i suspect it was due to something other than the radioactive decay). so what sort of experiments/demonstrations/interesting things can you do with the americium source once you have it?
Make neutrons and then you can make gold from mercury!!!<br> Note:this is just a serious idea that just came into my mind.<br> First ,you should have the main element <span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">196<br> 80</span>Hg which consists of 0.15% of the naturally occurring mercury</span>. It is better because <span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">196<br> 80</span>Hg is much easier to do it.</span>Then use <span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">241<br> 95</span>Am and an aluminium f</span>oil to make a neutron source.Aim neutrons to the target nucleus <span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">196<br> 80</span>Hg and it will get converted into </span><span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">197<br> 80</span>Hg</span> which is a radioactive element and has a half life of 2 days,16 hours,8 minutes and 24 seconds.You will be surprised to hear this.The decay product of <span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">197<br> 80</span>Hg is </span><span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">197<br> 79</span>Au.this is an idea which i want to truly experiment with but I am not sure<br> that it will be correct because sometimes&nbsp; will </span><span class="unicode" style="white-space: nowrap;"><span style="vertical-align: -0.4em;line-height: 1.2em;font-size: 85.0%;text-align: right;">197<br> 80</span>Hg will break like fission of<br> uranium-235 and I am only 13 years old to do this.</span><br>

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