Uranium was discovered over two centuries ago by Martin Klaproth. He was a German chemist and mineralogist who discovered a new element in 1817. However, uranium was not named or earmarked for use. It didn’t become a useful element until much later.
Today, let’s take a closer look at this metal to understand it better. Here are a few facts about uranium to help you know this element.
Pure Uranium is Silvery White
Uranium is a silvery-white metal with a slight yellowish tint. Uranium metal is a malleable and ductile element stronger than gold, silver, or platinum. Additionally, uranium does not rust, corrode or tarnish. Pure uranium is so soft that its density is 0.7 g/cm3. It is also highly reactive in that it oxidizes in air.
Heaviest Naturally-Occurring Metal
Did you know that uranium is the heaviest naturally-occurring metal? It is more than 40 times heavier than lead and nine times heavier than gold.
The element has an atomic number of 92 and an atomic weight of 238.056. The transition metals like the platinum group metals, uranium, and actinides have the highest atomic weight. You can measure the density of uranium in L/cm3. The bulk volume of uranium metal is usually comparable to that of steel.
Uranium is highly radioactive, and it is radioactive to the point where it can’t be handled. It does not fizzle or go away. Instead, it continues to emit radiation for a long time.
Several reports and studies have proved that this element is a potent carcinogen. It is also known to cause psychological disorders and lung cancer. How dangerous is uranium? Here is a list of uranium effects.
Uranium Can Transform
Uranium is a radioactive and unstable element. That is how it can transform into different isotopes. The element can transform into thorium, radium, protactinium, and other elements through radioactive decay. Uranium decays into lead through a series of radioactive decay processes.
It transforms into different elements by emitting alpha, beta, or gamma rays. These rays are of high energy. It also emits neutrons that can cause additional radioactivity.
Uranium is Slightly Paramagnetic
Uranium is slightly paramagnetic because it can form weak dipolar magnetic fields. How do you determine whether a chemical compound is paramagnetic? A compound is paramagnetic if it can be influenced by a magnetic field. How do you know if a compound is nonmagnetic? A compound is nonmagnetic if a magnetic field cannot influence it.
Uranium is used as a nuclear fuel in commercial reactors. Today, the element is used in nuclear fission to produce electric power. It is also used in the production of hydrogen bombs. It is also used in the production of nuclear weapons. The element is also used in cancer therapy due to its radioactivity.
Uranium is a Major Source of Energy
Today, uranium is the primary energy source in many parts of the world. The element is used to generate electricity because it has been the critical element in nuclear power plants. There are three practical uses of uranium due to its fissionability. It is used in creating nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and cancer therapy.
The Bottom Line
Uranium is not new because it was discovered more than two centuries ago. However, its use is relatively new. Today, the element is used to produce nuclear power and nuclear weapons. It can also be used in cancer therapy due to its radioactivity.
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