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.

uranium
This sample is from The Elements Collection, an attractive and safely packaged collection of the 92 naturally occurring elements that is available for sale.

Science and Ink cartoon for uranium
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 glass

Uranium: historical information

Uranium was discovered by Martin Klaproth in 1789 at Germany. Origin of name: named after "the planet Uranus".

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 glass

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.

Abundances for cobalt in a number of different environments. More abundance data »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe 0.2 0.001 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the universe on a miniature periodic table spark table
Crustal rocks 1800 150 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the earth's crust on a miniature periodic table spark table
Human 1 ppb by weight 0.03 atoms relative to C = 1000000 Chemical elements abundance by weight in humans on a miniature periodic table spark table

Physical properties Read more »

Heat properties Read more »

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 2.8.18.32.21.9.2. The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Uranium is [Rn].5f3.6d1.7s2 and the term symbol of Uranium is 5L6.

Isolation

Isolation: coming soon!

Uranium isotopes Read more »

Table. Stables isotopes of cobalt.
Isotope Mass
/Da
Natural
abund.
(atom %)
Nuclear
spin (I)
Nuclear
magnetic
moment (μ/μN)
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

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