How to Obtain and Extract Americium

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Introduction: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

This instructible shows how to obtain and extract Americium,have fun :)

Step 1: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

Inside inexpensive smoke alarms is a tiny amount of the radioactive element Americium. The isotope used, americium 241, has a half life of 452 years. Since americium 241 decays into the much more stable isotope neptunium 237 (half-life 2.1 million years), the sample in the smoke detector will have a few trillion new neptunium atoms in it every year.

Step 2: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

To get to the sample, we disassemble the smoke detector.

Step 3: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

The chamber that contains the americium sample is usually easy to find and open

Step 4: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

Removing the plastic parts gets us closer to the americium.

Step 5: How to Obtain and Extract Americium

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.

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

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    135 Discussions

    0
    jvisnak
    jvisnak

    9 months ago on Step 6

    Hm :-) , the critical mass of 242m-Am is just 20g ([doi.org/10.13182/NSE01-A2215, doi.org/10.1002/cplx.21427],*), but I guess the number of smoke detectors to reach this would be still insane (roughly 1g of Am is enough for 5000 detectors). And of course, one would need a well-suited neutron source to transmute 241Am(n,gamma)242mAm.

    * note: it is moderated system, so only civil applications are possible with that, I am typically thinking about an ultra-small experimental reactor.

    0
    proto26
    proto26

    Question 1 year ago on Step 6

    Hello. Do you know of any examples of practical uses for the extracted americium?

    0
    thepinkfloydian
    thepinkfloydian

    Answer 9 months ago

    As a source of alpha particles. You can use it to make a true random number generator.

    0
    Dave in Norfolk
    Dave in Norfolk

    Question 11 months ago

    From what I remember from my physics lessons alpha waves are easily stopped. If I encased an Americium 'button' from a smoke detector in clear resin (eg in an inch size cube) would that be as safe as in a glass bottle?

    0
    throbscottle
    throbscottle

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Why do they call it "Americium"? Why not "Britishium" or "Spanishium" or "Chinesium" or "Russium" or "Someothercountrium"? 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!

    0
    zilcho
    zilcho

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    zilcho
    zilcho

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    My bad, the Russian element was Dubnium not Darmstadtium.

    0
    JBarche
    JBarche

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually there are a few elements named after countries:

    Germanium, Ruthenium, Polonium

    0
    nighthawk108
    nighthawk108

    Reply 11 months ago

    also ytterbium, named after city in sweden.

    0
    J.S1
    J.S1

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    MistaStokes
    MistaStokes

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes! Iranium! Sounds perfect! Time to become a physicist, discover element 119 just so I can call it "Iranium".

    0
    sokamiwohali
    sokamiwohali

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hahaha...give me credit tho...ill have to sue if you dont!! lol

    0
    MistaStokes
    MistaStokes

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Indeed. It will probably be int the 130's by the time I get around to it, though.

    0
    feralucce
    feralucce

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    because the discoverer gets to name it