|238.029 g.mol −1
|Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789
Table of Contents
Chemical Properties of Uranium
|1135°C, 2075°F, 1408 K
|4131°C, 7468°F, 4404 K
|Density (g cm−3)
|Relative atomic mass
|State at 20°C
|234U, 235U, 238U
|ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database
What is Uranium?
- Uranium is a weakly radioactive element with an atomic number 92 and the symbol U in the periodic table.
- Uranium is one of the heavy metals that can be utilised as a rich source of concentrated energy. The element exists in many rocks in the concentration of 2 to 4 ppm(parts per million) and is common in Earth’s crust as tungsten and tin. It also exists in seawater and can be retrieved from the oceans.
Physical properties of Uranium
- Uranium was formed over 6.6 billion years ago. Though it is not common in the solar system, its slow radioactive decay provides a major source of heat within the Earth, responsible for continental and convection drift.
- Uranium’s high density means it also has applications in the counterweights of aircraft control surfaces and radiation shielding.
- It is one of the heaviest among all the naturally occurring elements when arranged based on the increasing mass of their nuclei on a scale. The element is 18.7 times denser than water.
- Uranium exists in various slightly different forms known as ‘isotopes.’ These isotopes are distinct in the number of uncharged particles in the nucleus.
- Natural uranium was found to be a mixture of two isotopes. U-238 accounts for 99.3% and U-235 around 0.7%.
- Pure uranium is silver in colour and readily oxidises in air.
- It is also used to colour glass that glows greenish-yellow in black light, but not because of radioactivity (the glass is only the tiniest bit radioactive). The fluorescence is due to the UV light exciting the uranyl compound in the glass, causing it to give off photons as it settles back down.
Applications and Effects of Uranium
- The isotope U-235 is essential since it can be split readily and yield a lot of energy under certain conditions. Therefore it is known as ‘fissile’ and uses the expression ‘nuclear fission.’
- Uranium fission is made efficient by nuclear engineers. To increase the proportion of U-235, the engineers either gasify the element to differentiate the isotopes. According to studies, most enriched uranium in nuclear power plants is made up of 3-5% of U-235.
Certain Facts About Uranium
- Uranium was named after the planet Uranus.