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Uranium the 92nd element and a member of Group 3b in the periodic table Its atomic weight is 238029 Its name and chemical symbol U are derived from Uranus because that planet was discovered a few years before the discovery of the element A compound of uranium uranium oxide was discovered in a uranium ore pitchblende by German chemist M H Klaproth in 1789 The German thought that he had found a new element This was not achieved until 1841 when the French chemist E M Peligot reduced uranium tetrachloride with potassium in a platinum crucible to obtain elementary uranium It was in uranium containing crystals that the French physicist A H Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896 Uranium is not as rare as was once believed Widely distributed in the Earths crust it occurs to the extent of about 00004 percent making the metal more plentiful than mercury antimony or silver Before World War2 uranium was of interest as a source of RADIUM for medical use and for producing a yellow green color in glass and ceramic glazes Uranium now occupies a key position in nuclear weapons and Nuclear Energy Pure uranium is a heavy silvery white metal that melts at 1132c and boils at 3818c The design of metallic fuel rods for nuclear reactors came from the product of uranium Uranium is a poor conductor of electricity It is also soft although it will harden when machined Uranium is a strongly electropositive element This means that it is easily oxidized In massive form the metal burns in air at 700c 1292f In finely divided form it is pyrophoric that is it ignites spontaneously in air In combining with other chemicals uranium commonly exhibits one of four oxidation states 3 4 5 and 6 It reacts readily with most nonmetals dissolves slowly in dilute mineral acids and dissolves rapidly in oxidizing acids such as nitric acid An important uranium compound is uranium hexafluoride which is
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