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About Uranium

Uranium 101



What is Uranium?

Uranium is one of the heaviest of all the naturally occurring elements, approximately 19 times heavier than water. This very heavy metal can be used as an abundant source of concentrated energy. Furthermore, Uranium is one of the more commonly found elements in the Earth's crust. Uranium is 500 times more abundant than gold, 25 times more abundant than mercury and twice as common as tin. Naturally occurring traces of uranium can be found in all rocks, soils, rivers and oceans. Uranium is used primarily in nuclear power reactors for the production of electricity. The chemical symbol for Uranium is "U".

Uranium occurs in several slightly differing forms known as "isotopes". Natural uranium as found in the Earth's crust is a mixture largely of two isotopes: Uranium-238 (99.3%) and Uranium-235 (0.7%). More notably, Uranium-235 can readily be split, giving off massive amounts of energy. This chemical reaction is known as "nuclear fission". When the U-235 neutrons split, a very large amount of heat is produced from a relatively small amount of uranium.


*Source: World Nuclear Association, 2011
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