Depleted uranium

Depleted Uranium (DU) is uranium remaining after removal of the isotope uranium-235. It is primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238. In the past it was called by the names Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38, but these have fallen into disuse. Since depleted uranium contains at least three times less uranium-235 than natural uranium, it is weakly radioactive and an external radiation dose from depleted uranium is about 60% of that from the same mass of uranium with a natural isotopic ratio. Depleted uranium behaves in the body as does natural uranium.

At standard temperature and pressure (STP) it is a very dense metal solid. Due to its high density the main uses of depleted uranium include counterweights in aircraft, radiation shields in medical radiation therapy machines and containers for the transport of radioactive materials. The military uses depleted uranium for defensive armour plate and its pyrophoricity has made it a valued component in other military applications, particularly in the form of armour-piercing projectiles.

Its use in ammunition is controversial because of its release into the environment. Besides its residual radioactivity, U-238 is a heavy metal whose compounds are known from laboratory studies to be toxic to mammals, especially to the reproductive system and fetus development, causing reduced fertility, miscarriages and fetus malformations. It remains debatable whether depleted uranium is dangerous to human beings at the low quantities in which it could possibly be ingested from environmental contamination.

See more:

– Special report




1. jul 2007. godine



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