What is Uranium ?
Uranium is a heavy metal, containing 92 protons and 92 electrons. And like other elements, uranium has different ‘isotopes’. These isotopes contain different number of neutrons in their nucleus. The uranium found in the Earth is a mixture of two isotopes: uranium-238 (U-238) which has the highest percentage (99.3%) and uranium-235 (U-235) which has a very low percentage (about 0.7%).
The half life of U-238 is about 4500 million years which is almost equal to the age of the earth, so Uranium-238 is barely radioactive. The most important uranium isotope is Uranium-235 which has a half life about 700 million years, so it decays faster and it split giving a big amount of energy.
The uranium is a radioactive series that begins with the natural isotope of uranium (U-238). This radioactive chain consists of unstable heavy atomic nuclei that decay with the formation of a sequence of alpha and beta decays until a stable nucleus is formed. In this case, the stable nucleus of the uranium-238 is lead-206. The total energy released from uranium-238 to lead-206, is almost 51.7 MeV.
Where can we find Uranium ?
Uranium is found naturally in the earth’s crust.
Uranium is naturally present in the world’s environment. It is commonly found in plants, rock, soil, water, and animals in small quantities.
Uses of uranium
When talking about nuclear energy and uranium, many of us think only about the nuclear reactors and the nuclear bombs and weapons. But few people realise the importance of radioactivity in our life, we have to know that the use of radioisotopes has changed our lives. Uranium is now used to power commercial nuclear reactors that produce electricity, and it has some medical uses as well as industrial uses.