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Name:  Adriana
Status:  student
Age:  16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
I have a question and hope that you can anwser it. I am doing a small report on uranium. And every time I do a search on the topic most of the hits that come up have to do with "depleted Uranium" Just what exactly is depleted Uranium?


Replies:
Natural uranium consists mostly of two isotopes: Uranium-238, which is by far the most abundant, and uranium-235, which is much rarer. Uranium-235 is the isotope that can sustain a chain reaction in a nuclear reactor. Unless very special conditions are employed in a nuclear reactor, there just isn't enough U-235 in natural uranium to use it as fuel. So, it is necessary to process natural uranium to make "enriched" uranium, which has a higher fraction of U-235. The by-product of enrichment is "depleted" uranium, which has a LOWER fraction of U-235 than natural uranium.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois



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