Depleted Uranium


Depleted uranium is uranium with a lower content of the fissile isotope U-235 than natural uranium..

In nuclear engineering, fissile material is material capable of sustaining a nuclear fission chain reaction.

Isotopes are variants of a particular chemical element which differ in neutron number.

Uranium is a chemical element with symbol U and atomic number 92.

Depleted Uranium | Digging Deeper by Stuff They Don't Want You To Know - HowStuffWorks


Uses of DU take advantage of its very high density of 19.1 g/cm3.

The density, or more precisely, the volumetric mass density, of a substance is its mass per unit volume.

'Depleted uranium's toxic legacy to poison Libya for 40 years' by RT


Civilian uses include counterweights in aircraft, radiation shielding in medical radiation therapy and industrial radiography equipment, and containers for transporting radioactive materials.

Radioactive decay, also known as nuclear decay or radioactivity, is the process by which the nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting radiation, including alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, and conversion electrons.

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy, often abbreviated RT, RTx, or XRT, is therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells and normally delivered by a linear accelerator.

Radiography is an imaging technique that uses electromagnetic radiation other than visible light, specifically X-rays, to view the internal structure of a non-uniformly composed and opaque object such as the human body.


Military uses include armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles.

Military vehicles are commonly armored to withstand the impact of shrapnel, bullets, missiles, or shells, protecting the personnel inside from enemy fire.

Plating is a surface covering in which a metal is deposited on a conductive surface.

A projectile is any object thrown into space by the exertion of a force.


Most depleted uranium arises as a by-product of the production of enriched uranium for use as fuel in nuclear reactors and in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion.

Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation.

This article is a subarticle of Nuclear power.


Enrichment processes generate uranium with a higher-than-natural concentration of lower-mass-number uranium isotopes with the bulk of the feed ending up as depleted uranium, in some cases with mass fractions of U-235 and U-234 less than a third of those in natural uranium.

A gene is a locus of DNA which is made up of nucleotides and is the molecular unit of heredity.

Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea.


Since U-238 has a much longer half-life than the lighter isotopes, DU emits less alpha radiation than natural uranium.

Alpha decay or α-decay is a type of radioactive decay in which an atomic nucleus emits an alpha particle and thereby transforms or 'decays' into an atom with a mass number that is reduced by four and an atomic number that is reduced by two.

Half-life is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value.


DU from nuclear reprocessing has different isotopic ratios from enrichment–by-product DU, from which it can be distinguished by the presence of U-236.

Nuclear reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel.


DU used in US munitions has 60% of the radioactivity of natural uranium.

Ammunition is the general term used for many kinds of propellant and projectile weapons — broadly, any expendable weapon that can be used in combat, including bombs, missiles, warheads, land mines, naval mines, and anti-personnel mines.


Trace transuranics have been reported to be present in some US tank armor.

A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat, with heavy firepower, strong armour, and tracks providing good battlefield manoeuvrability.

The transuranium elements are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92.


The use of DU in munitions is controversial because of concerns about potential long-term health effects.


Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by exposure to uranium, a toxic metal.

Metal toxicity or metal poisoning is the toxic effect of certain metals in certain forms and doses on life.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found on the left and right sides of the body in vertebrates.

The liver is a vital organ of vertebrates and some other animals.


It is only weakly radioactive because of its long radioactive half-life.


The biological half-life for uranium is about 15 days.

The biological half-life or terminal half-life of a substance is the time it takes for a substance to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity.


The aerosol or spallation frangible powder produced by impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites, leading to possible inhalation by human beings.

A material is said to be frangible if through deformation it tends to break up into fragments, rather than deforming elastically and retaining its cohesion as a single object.

Spallation is a process in which fragments of material are ejected from a body due to impact or stress.

Lead, from the Old English léad, is a chemical element with atomic number 82 and symbol Pb.


The actual level of acute and chronic toxicity of DU is also controversial.


Several studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents suggest the possibility of leukemogenic, genetic, reproductive, and neurological effects from chronic exposure.

Rodents are mammals of the order Rodentia, which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws.

Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system.


A 2005 epidemiology review concluded: "In aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU."

A congenital disorder, also known as a congenital disease, deformity, birth defect, or anomaly, is a condition existing at or before birth regardless of cause.

Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations.

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