Plutonium Essay

873 words - 3 pages

PlutoniumPlutonium is a radioactive metallic element. Although it is occasionally found in nature, mostly all of our plutonium is produced artificially in a lab. The official chemical symbol for plutonium is Pu, coming from its first and third letters. Its atomic number is ninety-four. Plutonium is able to maintain its solid state until very high temperatures, melting at six hundred and forty degrees Celsius, and boiling at three thousand four hundred and sixty degrees. The density of Plutonium, at twenty degrees centigrade, is 19.86 grams per cubic centimeter.Plutonium was discovered, in the laboratory, by Glenn Theodore Seaborg, and his associate Edward M. McMillan. The two shared the Nobel prize in 1951 for their discoveries of Plutonium, Americium (Am), Curium (Cm), Berkelium (Bk), and Californium (Cf). In addition, Seaborg later contributed to the discovery of three more radioactive elements, Einsteinium (Es), Mendelevium (Md), and Nobelium (No). Plutonium was Seaborg's first discovery. Its name came from Pluto, the planet after Neptune for which Neptunium was named. In 1940, at the University of California at Berkeley, he bombarded a sample of Uranium with deuterons, the nuclei in atoms of deuterium, transmuting it into plutonium. Shortly after, Seaborg was able to isolate plutonium 239, an isotope used in atomic bombs.Plutonium is a highly dangerous and poisonous element because it rapidly gives off radiation in the form of alpha particles. Alpha particles, which are identical to the nucleus of a helium atom, consist of two protons and two neutrons tightly bound together. Although the particles can only travel about five centimeters in the air, they can cause great damage when the enter the body, causing cancer and other serious health problems. Beyond the danger of their radiation, Plutonium will spontaneously explode when a certain amount, called critical mass, is kept together. Soon after the discovery of Plutonium, it was discovered that at least two oxidation states existed. It is now known to exist in oxidation states of +3, +4, +5, and +6.Currently, there are fifteen known isotopes of Plutonium, with mass numbers ranging between 232 and 246. The most important isotope is plutonium 239, or Pu-239. When struck by a neutron, this isotope undergoes a process called fission. In fission, When struck by a neutron, the nucleus of the plutonium atom is split into two nearly equal parts, and energy is released. Although the energy released by one atom is not much, the splitting of the nucleus releases more neutrons, which strike more plutonium atoms. This process, called a chain-reaction, produces enormous amounts of energy. This energy is often...

Find Another Essay On Plutonium

Nuclear Terrorism Not Likely Essay

1899 words - 8 pages     Abstract:  Now that the Cold War is over, both the United States and the former Soviet Republics are dismantling their nuclear arsenals. Because of a less than reliable system of nuclear security in Russia, the chances of terrorists group obtaining uranium or plutonium from Russia have increased. However, in order to assemble the nuclear weapon, the group would need both knowledge and all the necessary materials. Thus, a nuclear threat by

Which method is the best to solve nuclear waste disposal problem?

987 words - 4 pages nuclear waste disposal problem. There are some methods to solve the issue of the spent radioactive fuel, which will be assessed: geological disposal and PUREX (Plutonium and Uranium by Extraction) reprocessing method. Firstly, they will be evaluated by criteria of safeness and reliability then the cost and lifespan of these methods will be considered. This paper will claim that the PUREX reprocessing disposal of nuclear waste is the most beneficial

The Debate on Nuclear Energy

2168 words - 9 pages . Chernobyl, Ukraine was one of the many cities greatly impacted by the controversy of nuclear energy. Chernobyl is a small city located on the Pripyat River, very close to the Belarus border (“Chernobyl”, 2013). Chernobyl contained a large nuclear power plant, constructed to produce energy and plutonium. On April 25, 1986, there was an unauthorized test of one of the plant’s four reactors, during which nuclear engineers decided to initiate an

Nuclear Waste Disposal

1278 words - 5 pages . As defined, “Nuclear waste is the type of waste that results from the use and production of nuclear materials. As nuclear materials are produced and use up, one by-product of the process is a large amount of dangerous chemical elements.” In short, nuclear wastes are generated from spent nuclear fuel, dismantled weapons, and other products which many include the most dangerous chemical element, plutonium. As nuclear energy is being a more

Nuclear Waste

608 words - 2 pages mostconcern, is high-level radioactive waste, which is created whenreactor fuel is mined and processed and when atoms are split inreactors. This 'hot' waste includes spent uranium fuel rods andthe liquid waste produced when those rods are dissolved in acid tomake plutonium for nuclear weapons.Disposing of low-level waste presents difficulties, but notinsurmountable ones. As of now, it is shipped to special disposalsites in the United States

Nuclear Energy

2940 words - 12 pages brings the chain reaction to a standstill. The core cools, and steam is no longer produced (23-24). In all nuclear reactions use uranium and produce some plutonium.Since nuclear reactions produce a considerable amount of plutonium there are considerable hazards that come along with it. Nader and Abbotts, two men who have a great amount of experience in the nuclear industry, comment that:Plutonium's major dangers include the fact that it is weapons

Nuclear Reactors

606 words - 2 pages , turns uranium-238 into the isotope plutonium-239 by artificial radioactive decay. The plutonium-239 is then hit with rapid neutrons. When a plutonium nucleus absorbs a free neutron, it splits into two fragments. The fissioning releases heat and neutrons, which split other plutonium nuclei, releasing more neutrons. As this process is repeated, it becomes a self-sustaining chain reaction, creating energy, mostly heat, which is transported from the

Peaceful Uses for Nuclear Technology

1212 words - 5 pages % plutonium. The only form this can reach explosive capability is if it continues to sit there and absorb neutrons . Plutonium in reactors can explode but this explosion would be fairly small and has the possibility of not even exploding at all. The only way you can be able to attain weapons grade plutonium is by running the reactor at a quick pace and remove the plutonium. This is a method used by North Korea to obtain weapons grade plutonium. The

The Effects of Nuclear Fallout of Chernobyl

1209 words - 5 pages or the characteristics of an atomic nucleus. The reactors were used for manufacturing plutonium for nuclear bombs as well as producing energy for Chernobyl. Plutonium is formed by nuclear reactor or apparatuses that can make fissile material to undergo a controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Uranium is used in the reactors to make Plutonium. Different isotopes of Uranium go through transmutation, a form change, to create different

The seperation of Uranium

1132 words - 5 pages reactor.5. The nuclear reactorIn the reactor core the U-235 isotope fissions (see pg 1). The process depends on the presence of a moderator such as water or graphite, and is fully controlled.Some of the U-238 in the reactor core becomes plutonium-239 and Pu-240. The Pu-239 is fissile in the same way as U-235.Several hundred fuel assemblies make up the core of a reactor. For a reactor with an output of 1,000 megawatts (MWe), the core would contain

Nukes

374 words - 2 pages Nuclear fission is when you can split an atom's nucleus into two fragments with a neutron. It involves the isotopes of uranium (235, and 233) or plutonium 239. Nuclear fusion is when you take two atoms combining them to form another substance. In processes, fission and fusion, large amounts of heat energy and radiation are released. A source of fission or fusion fuel, trigger device, and a fuse to make an atomic bomb.A fusion bomb, which is

Similar Essays

Information On "Fat Man And Little Boy"

746 words - 3 pages uranium gun-type device, Fat Man was a more complicated and powerful plutonium implosion weapon that exploded with a force equal to 20 kilotons of TNT. 2. The discovery of fission in early in 1939 made atomic bombs possible. When the great Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, announced the discovery of fission to the world, many scientists became alarmed by the prospect that Germany would use fission to develop a Nazi atomic bomb. Albert Einstein wrote

Problems Facing Breeder Reactors As A Future Energy Source

2504 words - 10 pages Breeder Reactors: A Foreseeable Option? Abstract: Fission of nuclear particles has the potential to produce massive amounts of energy and electricity to help mankind. Breeder reactors bring forth modern technology at its finest; mankind is becoming more and more creative to make reactors which can be optimally efficient and cost-effective at the same time. By being able to harness plutonium-239 with a blanket of uranium and start chain

Atomic Bomb: Fission Vs. Fusion Essay

1692 words - 7 pages the "point of seeming assured of success,"(Grolier 5) another bomb was proposed. The Uranium-238 that had been earlier ruled out as an option was being looked at. It could capture a free neutronwithout fissioning and become Uranium-239. "But the Uranium-239 thus produced is unstable (radioactive) and decays first to neptunium-239 and then to plutonium 239."(Grolier 5) This proved to be useful because the newly created plutonium-239 is fissionable

Silver Button Cell Americium 241 Aplha Parical In Smoke Detectors There There Are Pictures, Diagrams And A Bibliography In The Uploaded Files

666 words - 3 pages current, due to that the air molecules are no longer ionized. The smoke detector sensor sets of the alarm because of the drop in current.When smoke detectors are thrown out they are transported to private landfills. Which then the Americium 241 decay chain ends with a stable non radioactive element bismuth 209Formation of AmericiumAmericium 241 (Am) is an artificially made radioactive metallic element produced from Plutonium 241 (Pu). Plutonium 241 is