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Decay Series - doe-hdbk-1113-98_reaffirm_2005_040047
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Radiological Safety Trainign for Uranium Facilities
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DOE-HDBK-1113-98
Module 101 Properties of Uranium
Instructor's Notes
Lesson Plan
2.
Criticality
Uranium is a fissionable material, which means it can
undergo nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is a process in
which a very heavy, unstable atom splits in two, or
"fissions". When an atom fissions, one large atom
primarily becomes two smaller atoms, between one and
seven neutrons are given off which may cause fission in
nearby atoms), and a great deal of energy is given off as
radiation and in other forms, such as kinetic energy of the
fission fragments. The radiation created could result in the
creation of radiological areas, such as High or Very High
Radiation Areas. Nuclear criticality associated with
uranium will be discussed in greater detail later in the
lesson.
D.
Chemical Properties
Uranium is chemically reactive. It burns in air like
magnesium; it is toxic like lead; and it forms a large
variety of chemical compounds. All the isotopes of
uranium have the same chemical reactivity, and all can be
made into the many different physical and chemical forms
Show OT-8
discussed in this section.
1.
Fire
Uranium is a metal that will sustain a burning
reaction (similar to a magnesium flare). The
potential for a fire is greatest when the uranium is in
a finely divided form, such as milling chips or
filings. In this form, uranium can undergo
spontaneous ignition. Uranium metal is often
machined to provide a useful end product, and
milling chips and filings are unavoidable
byproducts.
12


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