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Plutonium

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  • Plutonium is a heavy gray, metal
  • It look rather like nickel when freshly machined.
  • In air it discolors and soon begins to look like tarnished silver; it turns black. The rate of tarnishing depends on the particular alloy of plutonium and atmospheric humidity, but might typically occur within a day. in a few days then corrosion layer thickness, turns olive-colored, and flakes off as plutonium oxide
  • plutonium metal in pieces like the one shown here is not pyrophoric .it does not burn spontaneously in air
  • Its density 19.86 g/cm3, a little greater than gold.
  • At room temperature plutonium is in its α form
    (alpha). This, the most common structural form of the element (allotrope), is about as hard and brittle as grey cast iron unless it is alloyed with other metals to make it soft and ductile. Unlike most metals, it is not a good conductor of heat or electricity. It has a low melting point (640 °C) and an unusually high boiling point (3,327 °C).
  • Plutonium is an element in which the 5f electrons are the transition border between delocalized and localized; it is therefore considered one of the most complex elements.
  •  It is a radioactive actinide metal whose isotope,plutonium-239, is one of the three primary fissile isotopes (uranium-233 and uranium-235 are the other two) plutonium-241 is also highly fissile. To be considered fissile, an isotope's atomic nucleus must be able to break apart or fission when struck by a slow moving neutron, and to release enough additional neutrons in the process to sustain the nuclear chain reaction by splitting further nuclei.
  • Plutonium-238 is a special material that emits steady heat due to its natural radioactive decay. Several unique features of plutonium-238 have made it the material of choice to help produce electrical power for more than two-dozen U.S. space missions that have been enabled by radioisotope power systems (RPS).
  • For use as fuel in an RPS, Pu-238 is processed with other materials into a ceramic form called plutonium dioxide. In the unlikely event of a launch or reentry accident that released the fuel, this ceramic form—similar to the material in a coffee mug—would break primarily into large, non-inhalable pieces rather than fine particles that could be harmful to human health or the
    environment.
  • Plutonium application: fuel for nuclear reactors, explosive for nuclear weapons, neutron source, isotopic power source, isotopic heat source, in the past power source for pacemakers

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