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Radioactive Properties cont'd - hdbk1113cn10047


DOE-HDBK-1113-98
Module 101 Properties of Uranium
Lesson Plan
Instructor's Notes
becoming inert helium gas. The amount is only
significant for high specific activity forms of
uranium. For exampl e, a sampl e of 99% u ranium-
233 (233U) with 1%  232U creates approximately its
own volume of helium gas every year. Sealed
containers must include adequate gas space or be
fitted with pressure release valves. Once the
pressure is relieved, the low-pressure helium gas is
harmless.
Hydrogen gas is generated from uranium in water,
and this may also produce a pressure buildup
situation. Because the hydrogen buildup may also
be a fire hazard, it is discussed later in this module
in the Chemical Properties section.
Show OT-5
C.
Radioactive Properties
Uranium in its pure metal form is a silvery, gray metal and
is the heaviest naturally occurring element. There are 18
separate isotopes of uranium. Isotopes are elements that
have the same number of protons, but different numbers of
neutrons. For example,  235U has 92 protons with 143
neutrons and 238U has 92 protons with 146 neutrons.
Uranium is radioactive. Partially because of its size, the
nucleus of a ur anium atom is unst able. It reduces its size
either by alpha particle emission or by nuclear fission, in
which the uranium nucleus splits, pri marily, into two
smaller fiss ion products . Both process es release e nergy,
9


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