- Atomic Number: 92
- Atomic Weight: 238
- Boiling Point: 4,131 °C (7,468 °F)
- Melting Point: 1,132 °C (2,070 °F)
- Discovered by: Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789 and isolated by Eugene-Melchior Peligot in 1841.
Because of use in atomic bombs and in nuclear power plants,uranium is a very famous element. The atomic bomb dropped by the United States on the Hiroshima (a city of Japan) was also made from uranium element. Among all the naturally occurring elements on the earth, uranium is a very heavy element.
Characteristics and Properties
Uranium is a radioactive metallic element. Atomic number of uranium is 92, which has various naturally occurring isotopes, in whichuranium-238 isthe most common isotope. This common isotope accounts for more than 99% of uranium available on the earth and is uselessas faras making atomic bombs is concerned.
Uranium is a weak radioactive element whichgenerally emits alpha particles. Uranium is a reactive element whichcan react with all the non-metals, but not with noble gases. The reactivity of uranium depends on the temperature. It is more reactive at high temperature.
A few more characteristics and properties of uranium element are as follows:
- Uranium,in its pure form, is silvery grey in colour.
- It easily corrodes in air and changes into black oxide.
- It is strong electropositive.
- It is malleable, i.e., it can be drawn into sheets.
- It is ductile, i.e., it can be drawn into wire.
As far as uses of uranium are concerned, people may think it is mostly utilised in atomic bombs. Though it was true in early atomic bombs, today plutonium is used in most atomic bombs as fissile material.
Uranium-235,whichis a less common isotope,is today used in nuclear power plants to produce electricity without any carbon emission. The reason is,uranium produces a tremendous amount of energy when it undergoes fission. It is estimation that one kilogram of uranium produces electricity equivalent to that produced by 1500 tons of coal.
Uranium-238 is the most abundant isotope of uranium. It is not fissile and is useless as far as atomic bombs or nuclear power plants go. In general, it is utilised in constructing armours of military vehicles. It is also used in ammunition for making them heavier at a smaller size in order to pierce strong armours of enemies.
Where is it found?
Uranium is found naturally with a number of 51 in the list of abundant elements present on ourearth. It is a very dense element,generally found deep in the ground and rocks. Various minerals are there such as carnotite, uraninite and torbernite, wherein uranium is in a significant amount.
Uranium element was discovered by a German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789, whenhe was experimenting on pitchblende mineral. He extracted yellow powder from pitchblende,which was actually the oxide of uranium. He considered it an oxide of an unknown element.
Mr. Martin was not able to isolate the uranium in its elemental form. It was a professor of analytical chemistry Eugene-Melchior Peligotwho isolated uranium in 1841. The radioactivity of uranium was not discovered until 1896 when,in Paris, Henri Becquerel discovered it.
- Uranium is named after the planet Uranus.
- The uranium oxide, a yellow coloured substance, is also known as yellow cake.
- Uranium metal is very toxic and dangerous for the health of humans. It emits alpha radiations which lead to cancer.It is chemically toxic for human health as well in the same way as lead.
- Uranium is formedin our universe only in a supernova (explosion) of stars.