Uranium is a metal whose symbol on the periodic table of elements is the U. Its color is silvery white, it is hard, but not as hard as steel, in addition, it has radioactive and magnetic properties. It is the heaviest of nature’s elements. Uranium can adopt three crystalline forms: alpha (approximately 688 ºC in temperature ), beta (at 776 ºC) and gamma, being the most malleable and flexible beta form. It is a very reactive metal that oxidizes easily when it comes into contact with cold air, being coated with an oxide layer. May cause burns of up to 150ºC.
Natural uranium is radioactive enough to impress a photographic plate in an hour.
The chemistry , mineralogy and science in general had a growth in the late eighteenth century, as the mentality science of the time was driven as a new paradigm . In this context, the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered in 1789 uranium as an oxide, as well as other chemical elements (he deepened the knowledge of titanium and zirconium). The name of this metal comes from the planet Uranus, which was discovered years ago by an astronomer friend of Martin Klaproth.
A mineral that grew in acceptance from his studies
Initially, uranium was not a very appreciated mineral, as its practical application was not known (at that time the metallurgical industry cared more about iron, copper and zinc). On the other hand, only uranium oxide was known, as pure uranium was used after fifty years by the French Peligot. It was from this discovery that they began to learn about the radioactive properties of uranium.
Like other metals, uranium is mined from underground and open pit mines. To obtain useful fuel, uranium must undergo a complex transformation process .
The strategic value of uranium
The natural radiation from uranium generates a lot of energy for the Earth’s core, which it provides twice as much energy for human consumption. This means that the uranium found inside the planet is a natural thermal source that generates a large amount of heat.
At the end of World War II, the fission of the atom allowed the creation of the atomic bomb demonstrating the potential destructive power of uranium. However, its potential could also be used for peaceful purposes. In fact, uranium is the essential metal in nuclear power plants, from which they produce electricity in a very significant proportion .