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Atomic symbol U
Atomic number 92
Classification Metallic
Atomic mass 238.02891 amu
Other Information
Date of discovery 1789
Name of discoverer Martin J. Klaproth
Name origin From the planet Uranus.
Uses For many centuries it was used as a pigment for glass. Now it is used as a fuel in nuclear reactors and in nuclear weapons. Depleted Uranium is used in casings of armor piercing artillery shells, armor plating on tanks and as ballast in the wings of some large aircraft.
Obtained from Primary uranium bearing ores are uraninite, autunite, carnotite, samarskite and torbernite.

Uranium (U) is a heavy, naturally occurring radioactive, metallic element with an atomic number of 92. Its two principally occurring isotopes are Uranium-235 and Uranium-238. Uranium-235 is indispensable to the nuclear industry because it is the only isotope existing in nature that is fissionable by thermal neutrons. Uranium-238 is also important because it absorbs neutrons to produce a radioactive isotope that subsequently decays to the isotope Plutonium-239, which also is fissionable by thermal neutrons.

Uranium-235 can basically be used in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors by making a nuclear chain reaction. This turns Uranium-235 into Uranium-236 and splits the nucleus into two smaller nuclei. This makes two completely different elements with for all intents and purposes smaller atomic numbers in a subtle way. This process for the most part is called nuclear fission and creates lots of heat in a subtle way. This heat makes it very useful for making steam in nuclear reactors, or for making explosions with nuclear weapons. But most definitely such weapons use Plutonium made from Uranium-238.[1][2]

Depleted uranium

See also: Dirty nuke

Depleted uranium is one of the densest materials known to man; As such, the United States uses it for bullets and tank armor. According to the World Health Organization, normal civil or military use of depleted uranium is unlikely to lead to serious health problems. However, depleted uranium remains nonetheless a weakly radioactive, and chemically toxic metal.[3][4][5]

The Fallujah Study conduct ed in Iraq between 2005 - 2010 after the American use of depleted uranium artillery shells there found leukemia increased 38 times, the instance of brain tumors increased 13 times, lymphoma increased 10 times, and cancer in children 10.5 times.[6] A Guardian article from 2009 confirmed a 15 times increase in birth defects.[7]

World Production (2010)[8]

Country Production (t) Production (%)
Kazakhstan 17,803 33
Canada 9,783 18
Australia 5,900 10
Namibia 4,496 8
Niger 4,198 7
Russia 3,562 6
Uzbekistan 2,400 4
USA 1,660 3
Ukraine (est) 850 1
China (est) 827 1
Malawi  670 1
South Africa 583 1
India (est) 400 0
Czech Republic 254 0
Brazil 148 0
Romania (est) 77 0
Pakistan (est) 45 0
France 7 0