Plutonium | Properties | Uses | Other Details - Elements and Compounds


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Plutonium | Properties | Uses | Other Details

Plutonium Properties Uses and Other Details

    What is Plutonium

    Plutonium is a metal, and chemically it is an element. Plutonium is a white-silver colored metal. The density of plutonium is 19.84 grams per cubic centimeter. Plutonium's atomic number is 94, its symbol is Pu and its atomic weight is 244.0642 AMU. Its atom has 94 electrons, 94 protons, 150 neutrons and 7 energy levels. Plutonium is found in the solid state at room temperature. The melting point of plutonium is 640 °C (1184 °F) and its boiling point is 3228 °C (5842 °F). Plutonium is located in the group Actinides, Period 7 and Block F in the Periodic Table.

    Plutonium was discovered in 1940 by Glenn Theodore Seaborg (G.T. Seaborg).

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    Plutonium Properties Uses and Other Details

    Properties of plutonium

    • Plutonium is a radioactive element.
    • Plutonium is a silvery white metal.
    • Plutonium is a hard and brittle metal.
    • Plutonium is chemically very active.
    • Plutonium-239 is one of the main fissile elements, fissile elements are elements that sustain a chain reaction of nuclear fission.
    • Plutonium is not a good conductor of electricity and heat.
    • When plutonium is exposed to air, a dark gray oxide layer forms over it.
    • Plutonium is a very rare metal. It is so rare that it is found naturally on the earth in very small quantities, which is very difficult to collect. Therefore, plutonium-239 is produced in nuclear reactors by bombarding uranium-238 with neutrons.

    Uses of Plutonium

    • Plutonium is a radioactive element, so its uses are very less. Mainly its two isotopes plutonium-238 and plutonium-239 are used.
    • Plutonium-239 is used to make atomic bombs. Apart from this, it is also used in some nuclear reactors for energy production.
    • Plutonium-238 is used in thermoelectric generators. Thermoelectric generators are used in such spacecraft that travel very far from Earth, and where sunlight is not available to produce electricity.

    Interesting facts about Plutonium

    • A large piece of plutonium feels relatively hot to the touch because energy is constantly being released from it. A slightly larger piece of plutonium can generate enough energy to boil water.
    • Plutonium is not stored in a large amount in one place, because after a certain amount of accumulation, it itself becomes very hot, and the process of nuclear fission starts on its own.
    • When one kilogram of plutonium explodes, the energy equivalent to 10,000 tons of explosives is released.
    • The atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki was made of plutonium, while the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima was made of uranium.
    • There are 11 isotopes of plutonium, ranging from Pu-236 to Pu-246.
    • Plutonium-238 has a half-life of 87 years, while Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years.

    Detailed Information on Some other Metals

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