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Background Uranium is a hard dense malleable ductile silver-white element that has a symbol of U and atomic number of 92 It is chemically radioactive metallic element Uranium is a member of the actinide series in group IIIb of the periodic table It melts at about 1132X C boils at about 3818X C and has a specific gravity of 1905 at 25X C Uranium is very dense and at about 19 grams per cubic centimeter it is 16 times more dense than lead The atomic weight of the element is 23803 It is a highly reactive metal and reacts with almost all the nonmetallic elements and their compounds especially at elevated temperatures It dissolves readily in nitric and hydrochloric acids but is insoluble in alkalis Uranium never occurs naturally in the free state but is found as an oxide or complex salt in minerals such as pitchblende and carnotite It ranks about 48th in natural abundance in crustal rocks It is a fairly abundant element in the earths crust being about 40 times as ab undant as silver Several hundred uranium-containing minerals have been found but only a few are commercially significant Pure uranium consists of more than 99 percent of the isotope uranium-238 half-life 45109 years less than 1 percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235 half-life 7108 years and a trace of uranium-234 half-life 25105 years formed by radioactive decay of uranium-238 Among the artificially produced isotopes of uranium are uranium-233 uranium-237 and uranium-239 Isotopes ranging from mass number 222 to 242 are known History Uranium was discovered in 1789 in pitchblende by the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth who isolated an oxide of uranium while analyzing pitchblende samples from the Joachimsal silver mines in the former Kingdom of Bohemia located in the present day Czech Republic and named it after the planet Uranus that was discovered only eight years earlier However the substance that Klaproth identified was not pure uranium but an oxide
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