There was a similar question in place but the details of the answer may suggest another solution.

So I am aware that transmutation is used to reprocess radionuclides in nuclear waste to render them into shorter lived radioisotopes.


Well the sad answer is no. Actually, transmutation has proven itself not to be the omnipotent cure for the nuclear waste problem. Numerous calculations have shown that it does not really quite do the job. The idea was to build a test reactor in Belgium for the purpose. This plant was to be a hybrid between a lead cooled fast reactor and an accelerator driven core. Nowadays the transmutation part is almost abandoned and they plan to use it mainly as a neutron source.

Imagine a scenario of a mix of radionuclides from waste. Each represents a number of nuclear binding energy and many protons and neutrons with suitable numbers of electrons to keep the radionuclides from self ionization.

Is it possible to transmute all those radionuclides into median radionuclide or stable nuclides of an arbitrary chemical element while releasing extra nuclear binding energy that cannot fit into the median?

If possible, this process could be useful in settlements on another planet or natural satellite. If a chemical element is desired at the settlement, run computerized statistical stimulation and pilot plant to test feasibility for

  1. The desired element
  2. least amount of energy and subatomic particles to stimulate transmutation -- guide the controlled chaos of transmutations into the median.
  3. The enough extra nuclear binding energy to be released in a kind of Radioisotope thermoelectric generator. The harvested energy is used for shooting subatomic particle for the stimulations.
  4. The used radionuclide(s) of that arbitrary chemical element are allowed to decay, with a known decay chain and short half-lives.
  5. Is isolated area on another astronomical body useful as arbitrary kind of factor of safety?
  6. Any extra energy after the above would be exported from the power plant housing the generators so this process could be an electricity generation.

Is all this imaginary? but it is interesting.

  • $\begingroup$ please note that to add a link it is enough to highlight a word and click on the link symbol on the line at the top of the edit frame $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Feb 27, 2021 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


I will answer the question as stated in the title of the post.

Every nuclear reactor in operation today is busily transmuting elements by fissioning the fuel in their cores. This is probably not what you are asking about, but it certainly is occurring on an industrial scale.

All fast-breeder reactors operating today are transmuting elements by subjecting them to intense neutron bombardment, to convert U-238 into fissionable plutonium that can be used in bombs and reactors. This is occurring on an industrial scale.

Manufacture of technetium isomer (for use in radiomedicine) by neutron bombardment in accelerators is occurring on a very small scale, consistent with demand for it. The raw material for this process is an isotope of molybdenum, which is made by fission processes in reactors. Neither of these qualifies as "industrial scale".

Transmutation in accelerators is not occurring at industrial scale because the huge cost of running an accelerator for this purpose is unjustified by the value of the products, except for research purposes.


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