Uranium (U)

by Bryce Babyak

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Uranium is number 92 on the periodic table and has an atomic mass of 238.02891, making it a very large element. At room temperature, it is a silvery, solid, metal with a incredibly high density of 19.050 g/cc. Its melting point (1135°C) and boiling point (3927°C) are very high, and it isn't that malleable. It is flammable and combusts in the presence of oxygen. It has an atomic radius of 175 picometers.


Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered Uranium in 1789 in Germany. Klaproth dissolved pitchblende in nitric acid and added potash to purify the Uranium.
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Nuclear fission is the process of splitting an atom of a fissionable element (and a fissionable isotope) by firing neutrons at it. The atom repeats the process over and over again, releasing energy every time.
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Bombs (and Energy)

In World War II, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. The bomb had a splitting Uranium-235 atom in it that was uncontrolled, so it released a lot of energy and killed people. Fun.

Nuclear reactors, a more humane use of the element, are huge vats of water that are boiled by the heat energy released by fissioning Uranium. The steam outputted turns turbines and generates electricity.

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Radioactive Decay

Uranium is a radioactive element and suffers radioactive decay. It decays alpha particles. In the video below, the scientist illuminates the alpha particles. The first minute and a half shows the scientist setting it up. This article contains more information: http://www.sciencealert.com/watch-uranium-emits-radiation-inside-cloud-chamber

Radioactive decay occurs when an atom of an unstable element loses energy by emitting radiation in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and conversion electrons.

Cloudylabs cloud chamber working approx 50 min [720p]
I couldn't directly watch this for 50 minutes, but it'd make a cool screensaver. Skip to 1:38 to see some action.


Uranium hexafluoride-used for storage (solid state), processing (gaseous state), and feeding and withdrawing (liquid state)

Uranium metal-extremely dense but oxidizes on surface

Uranium tetrafluoride-can easily be converted to other compounds, also known as green-salt

Depleted Uranium-counterweights in aircraft, radiation shielding (medical), containers for radioactive materials and industrial radiography equipment, tank armor, bullets (more penetrable)

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Uranium has three naturally occurring isotopes, Uranium-234, Uranium-235 and Uranium-238. Uranium-235 is fissionable. Uranium-238 is bombarded with neutrons to synthesize Plutonium-239, another fissionable element. Uranium-233, a fissionable isotope, is created when Thorium-232 absorbs a neutron.

Fun Facts*

*Disclaimer: Facts may not be fun.

Uranium has been in use as far back as ancient Rome and during the Middle Ages when its orange-red to lemon-yellow shades were used as coloring agents in ceramic glazes and glass (Uranium Dioxide).

Over 33% of the world's uranium is mined in Kazakhstan. Other uranium mining countries include Canada, Australia, Namibia, Niger, and Russia.

In 1841, Eugène-Melchior Péligot became the first person to isolate uranium and in 1896 Henri Becquerel discovered it had radioactive properties.

One kilogram of 235U can theoretically produce 20 terajoules of energy, equivalent to the energy produced from 1500 tonnes of coal.

The military uses uranium when making special ammunition. It helps make bullets and larger projectiles hard and dense enough to punch through armor.

Named after the planet Uranus.

Yellowcake is milled Uranium oxide.

Uranium Jokes




Just kidding! There aren't any Uranium jokes!

Edit: Wait, I got one. It's situational though. You have to me immersed in a conversation about Uranium. After you lay down some sick fact, you could be like, "Uranium is the bomb!"

...Get it?

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I think we all know that I'm not even going to check what people vote. The answers are obvious: "10" and "Pretty hype."