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340) Can decay of radioactive substances be speeded up?

Ludwik Kowalski (1/10/08)

Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07055

The issue of possible influence of chemical environment on nuclear phenomena is not new; it has been investigated by Marie Curie. The probability of a process taking place inside of an atomic nucleus, such as radioactive decay of radium, was shown to be the same in all substances containing that element. It was also shown to be independent other factors, such as high pressure, magnetic field or cooling. Factors of that kind affect atoms and molecules; they do not affect atomic nuclei. Cold fusion researchers, however, claim that this is not always true. The ongoing controversy surrounding that topic started as soon as discovery of cold fusion was announced in 1989.

In some cases, however, as reviewed in (1), the effect of chemical environment on the probability of nuclear decay has been demonstrated and understood. It happens when beta-plus radioactive substances decay via electron-capture. According to (2), for example, the nuclear decay rate of 7Be implanted in palladium is about 0.8% higher than in 7Be implanted in gold. According to (3) the decay rate of 7Be in BeO is 54.23 days while in Be(OH)2 it is 53.42 days. This amounts to the 1.5% difference. The effect of chemical surrounding on the probability of the electron-capture process has been recognized by mainstream scientists long before 1989. It is considered to be an exception from the general rule -- other forms of radioactive decay cannot be modified by making changes in chemical environment. As indicated above, the 7Be effect is rather small.

Can the rate of another kind of radioactive decay be changed? The negative textbook answer to this question conflicts with observations described by at least two teams of CMNS researchers. John Dash et al., for example, reported that the decay time of the alpha-radioactive uranium was shortened by a factor of four after the material was exposed to the glow-discharge plasma for 18 hours (4). Likewise, V. Vysotskii et al., reported that the decay time of the beta-radioactive 137Cs, in some biological cells, was reduced from 30 years to less than one year (5). Bacteria, as suggested by authors, are able to cause the


transmutation process. The reaction is exothermic (5.58 MeV) but the coulomb barrier is very high (~10 MeV). I do not know why such barrier is not preventing bacteria from transmuting cesium into barium. The main question, however, has nothing to do with an explanation; it has everything to do with validity of the experimental claim. This claim is important because 137Cs is a significant contributor to high radioactivity of waste produced by nuclear reactors. The suggested possibility of destroying radioactive waste with bacteria should be investigated. A confirmation would open a new era in the field of nuclear electricity. Unfortunately, as far as I know, nothing is being done to either confirm of refute the claim. Why is it so?

Excited by earlier reports on destruction of radioactive materials in a high-voltage electrolytic cell (6,7) I asked for a chance to see the replication of one experiment. The principal investigator of that study, Hal Fox, invited me and the experiment, in slightly modified form, was repeated in my presence. The modified version of the experiment was expected to demonstarte the reported effect. The observed reduction of radioactivity, however, turned out to be apparent. It was due to changes in the counting geometry occurring during the experiment. At the beginning the radioactivity was in the electrolyte, at the end most of it was in the precipitation, at the bottom of the cell. The resulting reduction of counting efficiency produced an illusion of the loss of radioactivity, as described in (8).

1) F.A, Gareev and I.E. Zhidkova, “Enhancement Mechanisms of Low Reactions.” Their paper (part 1 and part 2) can be downloaded from the library at <>.
2) Zhou Shu-Hua; Liu Zhi-Yi; Zhou Jing; Meng Qiu-Ying; Li Cheng-Bo; Lian Gang; Wang Bao-Xiang; Bai Xi-Xiang, “Large Decay Rate Variation of 7Be in Pd and Au;” Chinese Physics Letters, Volume 22, Number 3, March 2005, pp. 565-567(3)
3) Huh, C.-A., Dependence of the decay rate of 7Be on chemical forms, Earth and Planetary Science letters, 171:325-328,1999
4) J. Dash, I. Savvatimova, S. Frantz, E. Weis, and H. Kozima: ”Effects of glow discharge with hydrogen isotope plasmas on radioactivity of uranium.” This 2002 report can be downloaded from the library at <>.
5) V. I. Vysockii, A. Odintsov, V. N. Pavlovich, A. B. Tashirev and A. A. Kornilova: Experiments on controlled decontamination of water mixture of long-lived active isotopes in biological cells. Condensed Mattter Nuclear Science; proceedings of the 11th international conference on cold fusion, World Scientific, New Jersey, 2006, p 530-536.
Also V. I. Vysockii and A. A. Kornilova “Nuclear Fusion and Transmutation of Isotopes in Biological Systems (MIR Publishing House, Moscow, 2003).
6) H. Fox and A. X. Jin, “Operating the LENT-1 Reactor: A Preliminary Report,” Journal
of New Energy, vol. 2, No 2, 1997, p 110-118.
7) H. Fox and A. X. Jin, “Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions and High-Density Charge
Clusters.” Journal of New Energy, vol. 3, No 2/3, 1998, p 56-67.
8) Ludwik Kowalski, <>

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