Interesting Facts About Plutonium

Plutonium was first discovered in 1940 to 1941 by Glenn T. Seaborg, Edwin M. McMillan, J.W. Kennedy and A.C. Wahl at the University of California at Berkeley. They actually submitted a documentation of their discovery but immediately withdrawn when it was found out that plutonium can undergo nuclear fission.

The word "plutonium" was actually derived from the planets of the solar system: Pluto, Uranus and Neptune.

And based from the Periodic Table of Elements, Plutonium has the following characteristics:

Atomic Number: 94
Atomic Symbol: Pu
Atomic Weight: 244
Melting Point: 1,184 F (640 C)
Boiling Point: 5,842 F (3,228 C)

Physical Characteristics of Plutonium

Raw and fresh plutonium are metals with silvery bright color but when oxidized by air, the color changes into dull gray, yellow or olive green.

It was also found out that plutonium metals are quickly dissolved when submerged in a highly-concentrated mineral acids.

When it comes to human senses, touching a large piece of plutonium feels warm. It's because of its energy known as "alpha decay". In fact, a very large piece of plutonium is capable of producing extreme heat good enough to boil water.

And unlike most other metals, plutonium is not a good conductor of electricity.

Important Usage of Plutonium

In the past second world war, the use of plutonium was a main ingredient in the creation of the most powerful nuclear bomb used in the history of WW2. But since the war has long ended, the important usage of plutonium are now directed towards nuclear power plants.

According to the scientific research, a plutonium is capable of producing high temperature of heat that can withstand a long half-life of 88 years. This is what makes this element also a perfect heat source for radioisotope thermoelectric generators. These are special generators used in powering various equipment for outer space exploration.

Hazard Radiation Warning Sign

Moreover, the most important fact that the general public needs to know about plutonium is that, it is a radiological hazardous element. The only possible and safety means of handling plutonium is with the help of specialized equipment and a lot of safety precautions that needs to be strictly followed.