Module 101 Properties of Uranium
The lower oxidation states, UO2 and U3O8, tend to
be dark brown or black. The higher oxidation
states, UO3 and UO4, are generally orange or
yellow, especially in solution or if water or
crystallization are present (e .g., UO4C2H2O).
Furthermore, the higher oxides usually flake off
more easily and are usually more soluble in water.
Being flaky, they are more easily inhaled. Being
more soluble, they are more easily absorbed into
Uranyl compounds, such as uranyl nitrate, or
UO2(NO3)2, are chemical forms of uranium that are
often found in solution with water. They are
generally yellow in color and are used in criticality
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Uranium reacts readily with air and water. For
example, when uranium is machined, small chips
catch fire from the heat of the machining process.
Shavings placed in water react to produce hydrogen
gas. The surfaces quickly oxidize to a hard black
coating that is at first protective; however, under
adverse conditions, it corrodes and flakes.
Uranium also reacts with hydrogen or tritium gas to
form uranium hydride (UH3). Uranium "beds" are
commonly us ed to sto re trit ium.