INVESTIGATIONS ON THE DIRECT CONVERSION OF NUCLEAR FISSION ENERGY TO ELECTRICAL ENERGY IN A PLASMA DIODE.
Rept. no. 4 (Annual), 1 Nov 62-31 Oct 63,
GENERAL MOTORS RESEARCH LABS WARREN MICH
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Experimental determinations are presented of the ion source rate generated by fission fragment ionization of noble gases. The effect of gas pressure 30 - 400 torr and gas species argon, neon, xenon and neon argon on ion source rate was studied inpile with ionization chamber tubes in which thin uranium foils served as a fission source. A theory was developed for the ion chamber current-voltage characteristic based on the assumption that the ion density in the plasma between he electrode sheaths was controlled by volume recombination loss. This theory accurately described the shape of the I-V curves. The values of ion source rate determined by the application of the theory to the experimental curves were in reasonable agreement with the values of source rate calculated independently from the ionization energy loss of fission fragments in the gas. Author