Chemistry - Uranium


  • Uranium is the metal of the actinide series of the periodic table.

  • The symbol of uranium is ‘U’ and atomic number is ’92.’

  • In 1789, Martin Heinrich Klaproth had discovered the element uranium and named it after the name of Uranus.

Salient Features of Uranium

  • Uranium is a silvery-white metal.

  • A uranium atom has 92 electrons as well as 92 protons, of which 6 are valence electrons.

  • Because of having unstable isotopes, uranium is a weak radioactive element.

  • Uranium-238 is the most common isotope of uranium.

  • Uranium occurs naturally in very low concentrations i.e. a few parts per million in rock, soil, and water.

  • Uranium decays gradually (slowly) by emitting its alpha particle.

  • Uranium has poor electric conductivity (so poor conductor of electricity).

  • Uranium is malleable, ductile, and marginally paramagnetic

Occurrence of Uranium

  • Uranium is (naturally) found as uranium-238, uranium-235, and uranium-234.

  • The half-life of uranium-238 is about 4.47 billion years almost the age of the Earth and the half-life of uranium-235 is about 704 million years.

Alloys of Uranium

  • Following are the major alloys of Uranium −

    • Staballoy

    • Uranium hydride

Compounds of Uranium

  • Following are the major compounds of Uranium −

    • Uranium nitride - U2N3

    • Uranium pentafluoride - UF5

    • Uranium carbide - UC

    • Uranyl fluoride - UO2F2

    • Uranium dioxide - UO2

    • Uranium hexafluoride - UF6

    • Triuranium oxtoxide - U3O8

    • Uranium tetrafluoride - UF4

    • Uranium trioxide - UO3

    • Uranium tetrachloride - Ucl4

    • Uranyl nitrate - UO2(NO3)2

Uses of Uranium

  • Uranium is used as power source in nuclear submarines (especially by military).

  • Uranium is used in making nuclear weapons.

  • Uranium is also used as ballasts for ships.