What is Uranium Used For?

Unleashing the Power of Uranium: Exploring Its Many Uses

Table of Contents

Uranium
Highly enriched uranium recovered from a National Security Complex Plant. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that there is a metal that can make a lot of energy but can also be dangerous if it is not handled properly? It’s uranium. You’ve probably heard of it, but do you know what it’s for? In this article, we’ll learn more about uranium and how it’s used in science and technology.

What is uranium?

Uranium is a kind of metal that you can find in rocks and soil. It is a naturally occurring element that is slightly radioactive, which means it gives off energy in the form of radiation . Uranium is used in many ways, but nuclear power is the most well-known. Marie Curie was one of the first scientists to work with uranium. Read about how her discoveries changed the world here.

Where does uranium come from?

Uranium is made in stars and supernovae , which are big explosions that happen when a star runs out of fuel. Uranium is spread all over the universe after these explosions, and some of it ends up on planets like Earth. Uranium is found in rocks and soil, and it can be mined from the ground.

Nuclear power

Most people know that uranium is used to make nuclear power. In nuclear power plants, uranium is used as a fuel to make electricity. When uranium atoms are broken apart, they give off heat, which is used to make steam. The turbines are then turned by the steam, which makes electricity. Nuclear power is a very efficient way to make electricity, but it is also controversial because nuclear accidents can be very dangerous.

Medicine

Medicine also uses uranium. Due to the fact that it is radioactive, it is used to treat cancer and other diseases. Uranium is used in radiation therapy, which is a way to kill cancer cells by sending high-energy radiation at them. Radiation therapy can be a very effective way to treat cancer, but it can also have side effects.

Military

Uranium has also been put to use in the military. Some types of ammunition use uranium because it is very dense and can go through armor. Uranium has also been used to make the most powerful weapons ever made: nuclear weapons. Uranium or other elements are used in nuclear weapons to start a chain reaction that releases a lot of energy.

Other uses of uranium

Uranium under UV light
Uranium glass glowing under UV light. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Uranium can also be used in many other ways. Some kinds of glass and ceramics are made with it because it gives them a yellow or green tint. Uranium is also used in some chemical reactions to speed them up. Due to the fact that it is radioactive, it is even used in some smoke detectors.

Precautions for safety

Since uranium is radioactive, it needs to be handled carefully. Radiation can hurt you, so people who work with uranium need to wear protective gear. Uranium must also be kept and moved in a safe way to avoid accidents.

 

Uranium is an element that can be used in a lot of different ways. Uranium has had a huge effect on our world, from nuclear power to medicine to military uses. Even though it is radioactive and can be dangerous, it is a valuable resource that has many important uses. Now that you know more about uranium, you can see how this interesting element affects our everyday lives in many ways.

Flesch Grade Level: 8.5

 

Flesch Reading Ease: 60.4

Glossary

Nuclear: Related to the nucleus of an atom, or the use of nuclear reactions to release energy

 

Radiation: Energy that is emitted in the form of waves or particles

 

Supernovae: A powerful and bright explosion that occurs when a star runs out of fuel

 

Atom: The basic unit of matter

 

Controversial: Describing a topic or idea that is debated or disputed by different groups or individuals

 

Ammunition: Objects used as weapons, such as bullets or bombs

 

Dense: Describes a substance that has a high amount of mass per unit of volume

 

Chain reaction: A process in which one reaction triggers another and so on, creating a sequence of reactions

Contributors

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