Uranium is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the U symbol and atomic number 92. It is a silvery-white metal included in the actinide series of the periodic table. Uranium has 92 protons and 92 electrons, and has valence electrons 6. The uranium nucleus binds 141 to 146 neutrons, so there are 6 uranium isotopes. The most common isotopes are uranium-238 (146 neutrons) and uranium-235 (143 neutrons).
All uranium isotope is unstable and radioactive is weak. Uranium has the second heaviest atomic weights among all the chemical elements that can be found naturally. The uranium-type mass is about 70% larger than lead, but it is not as dense as gold or tungsten. Uranium can be found naturally in low concentrations (several parts per million (ppm)) in soil, rocks, and water.
Good and Bad Uses of Uranium
Uranium is important to our lives. Uranium has many benefits for human life, provided that humans can manage and design uranium in such a way, it can be utilized in various fields. Then, what are the benefits of uranium for human life?
For more details, here are some of the good and the bad uses of uranium around us:
1. Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)
An energy generated from a nuclear fission reaction inside a nuclear reactor, can be utilized to power generation. Almost every developed country in the world today has used nuclear power for electricity supply in their respective countries. One form of a nuclear reactor, the non-pressurized reactor.
How it works is as follows:
A reactor that generates heat energy from fuel rods.
- The heat energy coincides with the water flowed to the heat exchanger to be separated.
- Next, the steam is separated from the water to drive a turbine that can generate electricity.
- While the water was, cooled and pumped to be returned to the reactor.
- Water is maintained in high pressure, which is equal to 160 atm. Therefore, this reactor is called a pressurized water reactor.
In addition, although not naturally occurring, uranium-233 is also a fissionable material that can be used as fuel in nuclear reactors. To produce uranium-233, the thorium-232 atom is exposed to neutrons. Thorium-233 forms when Thorium-232 absorbs neutrons. Thorium-233 has a half-life of about 22 minutes and decays to 233 exposure through beta decay.
Exposure-233 has a half-life of about 27 days and decays into uranium-233, also through beta decay. If it is completely divided, £ 1 (0.45 kilograms) of uranium-233 will give the same amount of energy as burning 1,500 tons (1,350,000 kg) of coal. (Read Chemicals Used in Nuclear Weapons)
However, do not abuse the existence of uranium, for example, used as a base for explosives sold on the black market.
2. Supporting Agriculture
There are several benefits of uranium that can be used in agriculture, among others as follows:
- Eradicating Disease Pests
Eradicating Disease Pests are done by radiating radiation in insect pests. It causes male insects will experience sterility. After it was released in the agricultural area. It is hoped that there are breedings between male insects barren with females. The eggs of the marriage will not hatch, which will disrupt the insect pest population.
- Making Superior Seeds
By way of radiation, a plant species in the field of agriculture can be sought and used as a superior seed. Such results have been done in Indonesia to find superior seeds of rice crops with the best varieties. That way, the people of Indonesia can produce and consume superior seeds who are safe and healthy.
- Store Food Ingredients Longer
It is need to keep in mind that groceries, such as potatoes and onions if stored too long they will sprout. Therefore, before they were being saved they must be irradiated with radiation with a certain dose. That way, the foodstuff will not sprout and last longer stored for inventory. That’s a bit of information that can be given about the benefits of uranium. (Read Radioactive Substance Uses)
3. Glass color
Uranium compounds have been used for centuries for color glass. A 2,000 year old sample was found near the yellow glass of Naples, Italy containing uranium oxide. Uranium trioxide (UO3) is an orange powder and has been used in the manufacture of Fiestaware plates. Other uranium compounds have also been used to make glass vaseline and glaze. Uranium in these items is and should be handled with care. (
Scientists have also used uranium to determine the age of rocks and soil layers.
The uranium nitrate compound can be used as a material for producing uranium dioxide which is useful in x-rays. (Read Properties and Uses of Actinium)
6. Coat of combat vehicles
Uranium is used by the United States military as an M1 Abrams tank coating, a mixture of DU and 0.7% of Titanium.
7. Eradication of pests with barren male techniques
Radiation can lead to biological effects, such as cabbage pests. In the laboratory is bred cabbage pest in quite a lot amount. The pests are then irradiated so that the male insects become barren. After that pests are released in areas affected by pests. Hopefully there will be breeding between local pests with barren male released. Eggs from such breeding will not hatch. Thus the reproduction of the pest is disrupted and will reduce the population. (Read Harmful Effects of Using Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides)
8. Girokompas and controller
Uranium can also be used as a girokompas and a controller on a spacecraft. Uranium used for this purpose has a low level of radioactivity.
9. Make Food Ingredients Last Longer
We know that foodstuffs such as potatoes and onions if stored long will sprout. Radiation from uranium can inhibit the growth of such materials. So before the ingredients are stored will be irradiated first with a certain dose so it will not sprout, thus can be stored longer.
10. Examination without damage
Radiation from uranium can be used to check for defects in a metal or welded joint, by recovering the material. This technique is based on the nature that the thicker the material the radiation passes, the radiation intensity is continued to decrease, so from the image that is made can be seen whether the metal evenly or there are hollow parts inside. In the hollow section the film will be black. (Read also Common Uses of Platinum in Everyday Life)
Bad Uses of Uranium As a projectile (bullet)
There are some good and bad uses of Uranium. Keep in mind that chemically uranium is a silvery heavy metal and is very dense. At high temperatures and pressures, uranium metals can burn and form fog. Uranium aerosols are liquid and very hot. Therefore, some circles, especially the military use it to be used in conventional tactical weapons systems.
Uranium can be used as a kinetic energy penetrating weapon. Such weapons are usually used in anti-tank weapons systems or other armored vehicles. That way, when it is shooted it can penetrate the skin or body armored vehicles. It is efficient enough until many countries have developed it as a conventional tactical weapon. (Read also Uses of Calcium Oxide in Daily Life)
You can imagine a kinetic-based projectile fired at a speed of 1000 m / s through a pipe. The uranium liquid or so-called slug that is fired is able to penetrate the armored wall of a military vehicle with ease.
Despite Uranium can turns out to be dangerous, there are very many benefits of uranium for human life. Of course it goes back to how we manage it. So this article about good uses and bad uses of uranium for human life. Hopefully this article can provide benefits to the readers as well.