What is uranium?

  • (noun): A heavy toxic silvery-white radioactive metallic element; occurs in many isotopes; used for nuclear fuels and nuclear weapons.
    Synonyms: U, atomic number 92


Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with symbol U and atomic number 92. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons. Uranium is weakly radioactive because all its isotopes are unstable. The most common isotopes of uranium are uranium-238 (which has 146 neutrons) and uranium-235 (which has 143 neutrons). Uranium has the second highest atomic weight of the primordially occurring elements, lighter only than plutonium. Its density is about 70% higher than that of lead, but not as dense as gold or tungsten. It occurs naturally in low concentrations of a few parts per million in soil, rock and water, and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals such as uraninite.

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Some articles on uranium:

Uranium - Human Exposure - Effects and Precautions
... brain, liver, heart, and other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because, besides being weakly radioactive, uranium is a toxic metal ... Uranium is also a reproductive toxicant ... Uranyl (UO+ 2) ions, such as from uranium trioxide or uranyl nitrate and other hexavalent uranium compounds, have been shown to cause birth defects and immune system damage in laboratory ...
... is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons, although uranium-235 has also been used and is currently the secondary isotope ... usable as fuel in nuclear reactors, along with uranium-235 and uranium-233 ...
Calutrons and The Manhattan Project - Uranium Isotope Separation
... when it discovered the possible utility of a kilogram of uranium-235 (235U) ... beam of ions of naturally occurring uranium splits into several streams according to their momentum, one per isotope, each characterized by a particular radius of curvature collecting cups at the ends of the ... feasibility of electromagnetic separation of uranium isotopes using the principle of the mass spectrograph ...
Helikon Vortex Separation Process
... The Helikon vortex separation process is an aerodynamic uranium enrichment process designed around a device called a vortex tube ... in South Africa for producing reactor fuel with a uranium-235 content of around 3–5%, and 80–93% enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons ... The Uranium Enrichment Corporation of South Africa, Ltd ...
In-situ Leach - Uranium
... Solutions used to dissolve uranium ore are either acid (sulfuric acid or less commonly nitric acid) or carbonate (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium carbonate, or dissolved carbon dioxide) ... ISL of uranium ores started in the United States and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s ... The first uranium ISL in the US was in the Shirley Basin in the state of Wyoming, which operated from 1961-1970 using sulfuric acid ...