Plutonium 240

Plutonium 240

240Pu is a fertile isotope because its fission cross-section is very low in comparison with fissile isotopes. Radiative capture of a neutron leads to the formation of fissile 241Pu similarly to 238U which radiative capture leads to the formation of fissile 239Pu.

It is a man-made isotope and can be found in an irradiated uranium fuel or in a spent uranium fuel. Isotope 240Pu is formed in a nuclear reactor from fissile isotope 239Pu. Absorption of a resonance or thermal neutron by the 239Pu nucleus yields 240Pu.  Trace amounts can be found in the nature. The isotope 240Pu is in a decay chain of the primordial isotope 244Pu.  These nuclei are present in the unalterable proportions of the radioactive equilibrium between 244Pu and 240Pu.

240Pu has relatively high radiative capture cross-section (about 290 barns for thermal neutrons).240Pu decays via alpha decay into 236U with half-life of 6560 years.

Fissile / Fertile Material Cross-sectionsFissile / Fertile Material Cross-sections. Comparison of total fission cross-sections.Source: JANIS (Java-based Nuclear Data Information Software); ENDF/B-VII.1
Fissile / Fertile Material Cross-sectionsPlutonium 240. Comparison of total fission cross-section and cross-section for radiative capture.  Source: JANIS (Java-based Nuclear Data Information Software); ENDF/B-VII.1
plutonium breedingSource of data: JANIS (Java-based Nuclear Data Information Software); The JEFF-3.1.1 Nuclear Data Library

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