Uranium: the essentials
Uranium is of great interest because of its application to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Uranium contamination is an emotive environmental problem. It is not particularly rare and is more common than beryllium or tungsten for instance.
This sample is from The Elements Collection, an attractive and safely packaged collection of the 92 naturally occurring elements that is available for sale.
Cartoon by Nick D Kim ([Science and Ink], used by permission).
Uranium gives interesting yellow and green colours and fluorescence effects when included to glass in conjunction with other additives. The image below is an English amphora dating to about 1930 showing a characteristic yellow-green colour. The image is reproduced with the permission of Ken Tomabechi (Uranium Glass Gallery in Japan), where you can find further information about uranium glass. This type of glass is sometimes referred to as "vaseline glass" in the UK and USA and as "Annagelb" (yellow) or "Annagruen" (green) in Germany.
Uranium: historical information
A yellow glass containing more than 1% uranium oxide dating back to 79 AD was found near Naples in Italy. Klaproth recognized an unknown element in pitchblende and attempted to isolate the metal in 1789. He named the element for the planet uranus which had just been discovered. However, uranium metal itself was first isolated in 1841 by Eugene-Melchoir Peligot, who reduced the anhydrous chloride UCl4 with potassium. The radioactive nature of uranium was not appreciated for another 55 years when in 1896 Henri Becquerel detected its radioactivity.
Uranium gives interesting yellow and green colours and fluorescence effects when included to glass in conjunction with other additives. The image below is a shows flower holders made by Burtles, Tate & Co. (England, 1885) showing a characteristic yellow-green colour. The image is reproduced with the permission of Ken Tomabechi at the Uranium Glass Gallery in Japan, where you can find further information about uranium glass. This type of glass is sometimes referred to as "vaseline glass" in the UK and USA and as "Annagelb" (yellow) or "Annagruen" (green) in Germany.
Uranium around us Read more »
Uranium has no biological role.
The most important uranium ore is uranite, usually called pitchblende. Uranite's formula is roughly UO2. Uranium is surprisingly common and is more plentiful than mercury, silver, or cadmium in the earth's crust, and is about as abundant as molybdenum or arsenic. Much of the earth's internal heat is thought to be attributable to nuclear reactions of uranium and thorium.
|Location||ppb by weight||ppb by atoms||Links|
|Human||1 ppb by weight||0.03 atoms relative to C = 1000000|
Physical properties Read more »
Heat properties Read more »
- Melting point: 1405.3 [1132.2 °C (2070 °F)] K
- Boiling point: 4200 [ca.3900 °C (7101 °F)] K
- Enthalpy of fusion: |203| kJ mol-1
Crystal structure Read more »
The solid state structure of uranium is: orthorhombic.
Uranium: orbital properties Read more »
Uranium atoms have 92 electrons and the shell structure is 188.8.131.52.21.9.2. The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Uranium is [Rn].5f3.6d1.7s2 and the term symbol of Uranium is 5L6.
- Pauling electronegativity: 1.38 (Pauling units)
- First ionisation energy: 597.6 kJ mol‑1
- Second ionisation energy: 1420 kJ mol‑1
Isolation: coming soon!
Uranium isotopes Read more »
|234U||234.0409468 (24)||[0.0055 (2)]||0||0|
|235U||235.0439242 (24)||[0.7200 (51)]||7/2||-0.35|
|238U||238.0507847 (23)||[99.2745 (106)]||0||0|