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?
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.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
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Update: June 2012