+ 1-888-787-5890  
   + 1-302-351-4405  

Essay/Term paper: Plutonium

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Chemistry

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Chemistry: Plutonium, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.


Plutonium is a radioactive metallic element. Although it is occasionally
found in nature, mostly all of our plutonium is produced artificially in a lab.
The official chemical symbol for plutonium is Pu, coming from its first and
third letters. Its atomic number is ninety-four. Plutonium is able to maintain
its solid state until very high temperatures, melting at six hundred and forty
degrees Celsius, and boiling at three thousand four hundred and sixty degrees.
The density of Plutonium, at twenty degrees centigrade, is 19.86 grams per cubic
Plutonium was discovered, in the laboratory, by Glenn Theodore Seaborg,
and his associate Edward M. McMillan. The two shared the Nobel prize in 1951
for their discoveries of Plutonium, Americium (Am), Curium (Cm), Berkelium (Bk),
and Californium (Cf). In addition, Seaborg later contributed to the discovery
of three more radioactive elements, Einsteinium (Es), Mendelevium (Md), and
Nobelium (No). Plutonium was Seaborg"s first discovery. Its name came from
Pluto, the planet after Neptune for which Neptunium was named. In 1940, at the
University of California at Berkeley, he bombarded a sample of Uranium with
deuterons, the nuclei in atoms of deuterium, transmuting it into plutonium.
Shortly after, Seaborg was able to isolate plutonium 239, an isotope used in
atomic bombs.
Plutonium is a highly dangerous and poisonous element because it rapidly
gives off radiation in the form of alpha particles. Alpha particles, which are
identical to the nucleus of a helium atom, consist of two protons and two
neutrons tightly bound together. Although the particles can only travel about
five centimeters in the air, they can cause great damage when the enter the body,
causing cancer and other serious health problems. Beyond the danger of their
radiation, Plutonium will spontaneously explode when a certain amount, called
critical mass, is kept together. Soon after the discovery of Plutonium, it was
discovered that at least two oxidation states existed. It is now known to exist
in oxidation states of +3, +4, +5, and +6.
Currently, there are fifteen known isotopes of Plutonium, with mass
numbers ranging between 232 and 246. The most important isotope is plutonium 239,
or Pu-239. When struck by a neutron, this isotope undergoes a process called
fission. In fission, When struck by a neutron, the nucleus of the plutonium atom
is split into two nearly equal parts, and energy is released. Although the
energy released by one atom is not much, the splitting of the nucleus releases
more neutrons, which strike more plutonium atoms. This process, called a chain-
reaction, produces enormous amounts of energy. This energy is often used to
power nuclear reactors, or to provide the energy for nuclear weapons. Although
Pu-239 is such an efficient use for energy, disposing of its waste has become a
major problem. When uranium is converted to Pu-239, a waste with a half-life of
around 24,100 years is produced.
Another large problem for scientists creating power with plutonium is
actually getting the chain-reaction to work. Often, only the first few atoms
struck by the deuterons convert to Plutonium. Unfortunately for the scientists,
the whole problem is a matter of probabilities and chance. There are four
factors that determine whether the reaction occurs. They are 1) escape, 2) non-
fission capture by uranium, 3) non-fission capture by impurities, and 4) fission
capture. The first three factors cause the uranium to lose neutrons, the last
is what causes the reaction. If the loss of neutrons is less than that of those
produced, by fission capture, the reaction occurs. Otherwise, plutonium is not
made, and the chain-reaction stops immediately.
Using the chain-reaction system, the first operating nuclear reactor of
a reasonable amount of power was built in 1943. It was called the X-10 reactor.
The core of the reactor was a twenty- four foot cube of graphite blocks, with
1248 fuel channels each 1.75 inches square. Each hole was fueled with four inch
long uranium rod, jacketed in aluminum to protect against oxidation. The entire
core was surrounded by a seven-foot thick concrete shield, with openings at one
end to replace the uranium rods. At a cost of $1,000,000 for the building and
$2,000,000 each for the graphite and uranium, this plant produce about 190 Mevs
per fission.
In addition to its uses as fuel for a reactor or in a bomb, plutonium
has some practical, everyday uses as well. For example, the original plutonium
isotope, Pu-238, is used today to power pacemakers for people with deficient
hearts. Also, isotopes Pu-242 and Pu-244, which occurs naturally, are used in
studying chemicals and metals.
The half-life of atoms of plutonium was very important to seaborg and
his assistants back in 1940. In fact, all of his other radioactive discoveries
were based on the finding of Pu-238. For example, Pu-241 decays with a half-life
of about thirteen years emitting negatively charged beta particles, or electrons.
It then converts to Am-241, an isotope of americium, which emits alpha particles
for 470 years, before turning into Am-242, which converts to Cm-242, an isotope
of curium, in only sixteen hours. The Cm-242 emits alpha particles for about 162
days before ending the decay of Plutonium 241.
Chemical Equation for Producing Plutonium: 92U-238 ----> 92U-
-239 ----> 93Np-239 ----> 94Pu-239


Other sample model essays:

Science Research Papers / Iron Pyrite
Iron Pyrite Pyrite, also known as Fools Gold is the most common of the sulfide minerals. Pyrite is called Fool's Gold because of it's pale brass yellow color and glistening metallic lust...
Chemistry / Quarks
Quarks Quarks- any group of subatomic particles believed to be among the basic components if matter Quarks are believed to be the fundamental constituents of matter, and have no apparent...
Science Research Papers / Rates Of Reaction
Rates of Reaction BACKGROUND INFORMATION What affects the rate of reaction? 1) The surface area of the magnesium. 2) The temperature of the reaction. 3) Concentration of the hydrochlor...
Chemistry / Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle is considered both the founder of modern chemistry and the greatest English scientist to live during the first thirty years of the existence of the Royal Society....
The Role Catalysts In Chemical Reactions, Their Importance In Industry, Problems and New Developments OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE SCHOOLS EXAMINATION BOARD. General Certificate Examination - Advan...
The Safety Inspector Mr. Redos, I am an inspector for the OSHA. I have noticed the following safety objects missing in the room F 203, chemistry room. These are sprinklers, a drain, and ...
Biography Term Papers / Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol Never before have I encountered more intriguing works of art than those done by Andy Warhol. I have been curious about his life ever since I saw his work in Milwaukee. I saw h...
Science Fair Project: Melting Ice Materials: - 3 aluminum baking pans - water to fill each pan - 1/2 cup of salt - 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol - 1/2 cup of sand - watch - large freeze...
Creative Writing: The Fossilized Story of Mr. Allosaurus As the mud starts to surround me I am no longer able to breathe. I catch my last gasp of air and feel a few last raindrops fall on ...
The Sequence of Chemical Reactions Drew Selfridge Dave Allen, Lab partner Instructor Yang February 11, 1997 INTRODUCTION This experiment was to recover the most amount of copper after i...
Experience with Dream Essay - Reliable and great customer service. Quality of work - High quality of work.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Dream Essay - Very reliable and great customer service. Encourage other to try their service. Writer 91463 - Provided a well written Annotated Bibliography with great deal of detail per the rubric.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
it is always perfect
Frederick, Maryland, United States
The experience with Dream Essay is stress free. Service is excellent and forms various forms of communication all help with customer service. Dream Essay is customer oriented. Writer 17663 is absolutely excellent. This writer provides the highest quality of work possible.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Only competent & proven writers
Original writing — no plagiarism
Our papers are never resold or reused, period
Satisfaction guarantee — free unlimited revisions
Client-friendly money back guarantee
Total confidentiality & privacy
Guaranteed deadlines
Live Chat & 24/7 customer support
All academic and professional subjects
All difficulty levels
12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1 inch margins
The fastest turnaround in the industry
Fully documented research — free bibliography guaranteed
Fax (additional info): 866-332-0244
Fax (additional info): 866-308-7123
Live Chat Support
Need order related assistance?—Click here to submit a inquiry
© Dreamessays.com. All Rights Reserved.
Dreamessays.com is the property of MEDIATECH LTD