The naturally occurring isotopes are fissionable 235U (0.7205% of natural uranium), 238U which cannot be fissioned with thermal neutrons (99.2739% of natural uranium), and 234U, a decay product of 238U (0.0056%). Enriched uranium is that in which the percentage of the fissionable isotope 235U has increased beyond the content of 0.7205% of natural uranium. Depleted uranium has a lower percentage of 235U than that occurring in natural uranium; it is produced during uranium isotope separation.
The decay of uranium yields a series (see radioactive series) of radioactive products, including radium and radon. Exposure to the radiation emitted by uranium can cause tissue damage or cancer. Uranium is also chemically poisonous and can cause damage to the urinary system.
Uranium oxideOne of a series of compounds of which UO2, U4O9, U3O8, and UO3 are the most common, and of which U3O8 is the most stable. The latter is green, brown, or black with an orthorhombic crystalline structure.
Related categories ATOMIC AND NUCLEAR PHYSICS
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