Properties of Depleted and Natural Uranium?

  • #1
Depleted uranium is often used for applications in which high density is valued, such as counterweights, tank armor, and armor-piercing ammunition. Obviously there are going to be some differences between depleted uranium (defined as having 0.3% or less U-235) and natural uranium (averaging 0.72% U-235), but does it matter for most applications what type of uranium it is? In other words, is depleted uranium used because it has more desirable properties, or is it used simply because there isn't much else to do with uranium containing a low percentage of U-235?
 

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  • #2
anorlunda
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We enrich the U235 content to make it useful as reactor fuel. The waste product is depleted uranium. Different isotopes are chemically identical.
 
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  • #3
Different isotopes are chemically identical.
Does that mean that a counterweight or even an armor alloy would have identical performance regardless of the isotopic composition of the uranium used to make it?
 
  • #4
JBA
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Depleted uranium is used for applications because of its high density, which can provide a lot of weight in very compact package, its weight (1.67 x wt of lead) iits common uses today are the military applications described by many available sources online.

Another application is as counterweights on the control systems as well as aircraft trimming. On some earlier jet liners rods of this material was attached to the trailing edge and extended out behind the elevator blades.To my best remembrance, the rods weight served as inertial damping weights to help prevent elevator over controlling by the pilots. The depleted uranium as a material was selected for this application because its high density could provide the required weight in the most compact size rods.

Those of us traveling on those airliners in those days could see them while the aircraft were sitting on the airport paddocks.

By searching under "depleted uranium on aircraft" information about this can be found.
 
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...is depleted uranium used because it has more desirable properties, or is it used simply because there isn't much else to do with uranium containing a low percentage of U-235?
Not 'or' but all together. Regarding 'desirable properties' it is cheaper and it is available: and there isn't much else to do with it.
 
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anorlunda
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Does that mean that a counterweight or even an armor alloy would have identical performance regardless of the isotopic composition of the uranium used to make it?
For all practical purposes, yes.
 
  • #7
russ_watters
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Does that mean that a counterweight or even an armor alloy would have identical performance regardless of the isotopic composition of the uranium used to make it?
Yes, but the other side of the coin is that you would not want to use something too high in U235 because it would be significantly more radioactive. It's both a danger and a waste.
 
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Yes, but the other side of the coin is that you would not want to use something too high in U235 because it would be significantly more radioactive. It's both a danger and a waste
the Half-Life of U235 is 700 million years. It is not "significantly" radioactive nor dangerous in that sense.
 
  • #9
boneh3ad
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the Half-Life of U235 is 700 million years. It is not "significantly" radioactive nor dangerous in that sense.
Unless, of course, you got too much of it together in one place...
 

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