December 20, 2007
Mr. Fission Update

It would appear Toshiba wins the prize as the first company to produce one of those "fission in a box" devices for commercial use. Yet another device which, if it pans out, would go a very long way toward ending our dependence on foreign oil.

Posted by scott at December 20, 2007 09:09 AM

eMail this entry!

great for zombie movies tho'...

But if silver is a metal--and it is--how does one "extract silver from metal"?

Posted by: Mark on December 20, 2007 09:20 AM

obviously that last comment belongs with "Papa Smurf Lives" below. Not sure how it got here.

Posted by: Mark on December 20, 2007 09:23 AM

Oh joy! Now potential terrorists or just general malcontents have a whole new engineering project to work on--how to adapt this new, promising technology to bomb-making!

Posted by: Mark on December 20, 2007 09:27 AM

From what I read previously, they may be quite resistant to such things. The devices have no moving parts, and provide only an inlet and outlet hookup for water and steam (respectively). Turn off the water, and the device will heat up, but only to a point, whereupon it reaches equilibrium and just sits there.

It would seem to me (in my infinite knowledge of these things) possible to engineer the device such that any attempt to breach containment would either safely destroy or permanently encapsulate the innards. Either would seem a good idea, since they would facilitate legitimate disposal.

Posted by: scott on December 20, 2007 10:10 AM

It also depends on the material being used for the fission. Chances are it's not weapons-grade in any way, shape, or form, so getting the materials out wouldn't do anyone any good at all - except that without proper protection, it'd probably send the person doing the extraction to meet their deity a bit quicker than they planned.

As for making a dirty bomb out of it (which is likely the best scenario for a terrorist), they'd have to get down to it (my guess is that these things would be underground/buried), get enough explosives on it to breach containment, AND vaporize/fragmentize enough of the material for it to spread out. A simple monitoring system would tell authorities if the power output dropped or died, which should prompt a quick investigation.

That and I believe lithium turns to a solid around 180 degrees C, so a breach would actually be somewhat self-sealing (depending on the nature of the breach), which makes this even more fun.

If done well,

Posted by: Ron on December 20, 2007 10:28 AM

Yeh, but I think we're 'building a better mousetrap" here. What do you get when you build a better mousetrap? Eventually a more intelligent mouse!

My point: any new energy source has the potential (at least) of being perverted one way or the other. Built-in fail-safes can be detoured around. Sure, they may not be able to build H-bombs with the things, but they're sure to find SOME hazardous-for-the-Infidel use for them.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid in this post-9/11 world.

Posted by: Mark on December 20, 2007 08:28 PM

Well, yes. You are a bit paranoid. It's somewhat appropriate, though. There is some subset of the world's population that would want to kill us and do other bits of damage. Failsafes can be gotten around - and since this is a boogeyman, it'd do more psychological damage than physical (most likely). They could actually do much more damage with a simply fuel-air bomb, but for some reason, they haven't.

not sure on that. Pick a crowded residential area, buy a house. Let the natural gas leak into it until you've got the right mixture. Detonate the huge bomb.

Posted by: ronaprhys on December 20, 2007 09:29 PM
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