The Student Room Group

Could Cobalt 60 be used to generate heat energy?

Could Cobalt 60 or any other similar isotope be used in the same way that U-235 is used in a nuclear reactor to generate heat energy? I know that Co-60 is fissile and emits photons but would Co-60 rods placed close together create a critical mass and heat just like in a uranium reactor?

What other isotopes other than U235 or Pu isotopes could be used like this?
Reply 1
I know that Co-60 is fissile

I don't think that's right

fission is different to radioactive decay

Co-60 decays by emitting a beta (and also some gamma photons) and ends up as Ni-60

Collecting a bunch of Co-60 together wouldn't make a reactor (or bomb) like nuclear chain reaction because the Co-60 is not absorbing neutrons before fissioning or releasing neutrons to cause other nuclei to fission

The photons from Co-60 are high energy photons as photons go but they represent a small amount of energy (heat) relative to the mass of cobalt compared to the amount of energy released by a fissioning nucleus.

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