Uranium - nuclear fuel
Uranium is the most commonly used nuclear fuel in nuclear fission reactions. It is a natural element that can be found in nature. However, in order to be able to use uranium in a nuclear reactor it must undergo some treatment.
To know the peculiarities that make uranium so different from the other substances we must first consider some basic nuclear physics.
Basic physical considerations of uranium
The positive charges of the protons try to push violently outwards. What prevents them from separating is a new kind of force: an immensely powerful short-range attraction force, acting indistinctly between protons and neutrons (which from this point of view are all nucleons). The short-range nuclear force holds them together, opposing the repulsive effect of positive charges on protons. In this way, neutrons act as & ldquo; nuclear cement. & Quot ;.
Characteristics of uranium, an unstable element
The uranium-235 core is already under stress close to internal rupture; A stray neutron approaching it can break it completely.
For nuclear fission reactions we are interested in this combination of protons and neutrons that is so on the verge of overcoming the nuclear force. Thus, by simply adding a neutron to the atom it explodes and divides, generating other neutrons that can collide with other uranium atoms that are also at the limit.
Enriched uranium and depleted uranium
Depleted uranium is a mixture of the same three uranium isotopes except that it has very little 234U and 235U. It is less radioactive than natural uranium.
Enriched uranium is another mixture of isotopes that has more 234U and 235U than natural uranium. Enriched uranium is more radioactive than natural uranium.
Natural uranium is used to make enriched uranium; The surplus product is depleted uranium.
Applications of uranium
Uranium is very important in the nuclear power industry as a nuclear fuel. Specifically, nuclear ractures often use enriched uranium. Even so, there are other applications of depleted uranium.
Uranium is almost as hard as steel and much denser than lead. This feature makes depleted uranium an optimal element for applications such as:
- Counterweight in helicopter rotors and parts of aircraft
- Protective shield against ionizing radiation
- Component of ammunition so that they can more easily penetrate the armored vehicles of the enemy.
- Shielding in military vehicles.
- Energía nuclear - Walter c.Patterson
- El uranio como combustible nuclear
- Uranio (U) Propiedades químicas y efectos sobre la salud y el medio ambiente
Last review: August 29, 2017