Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of the production of enriched uranium for use in nuclear reactors, and it can also be used as a radiation shielding material. It's radioactive, but not dangerous. Here we'll take a look at how DU is used in the nuclear power industry.
Depleted uranium is becoming increasingly useful to modern society as a radiation shielding material for medical and other uses, as well as for counterweights on aircraft such as the Boeing 787.
It's important to note that depleted uranium is not actually "depleted" or harmless in any way—it just has less of the radioactive material U-238 than naturally occurring uranium. Depleted uranium emits alpha particles, which aren't dangerous unless they're inhaled or ingested directly into your body (for example, if you swallow one). If you have been exposed to depleted uraniam and are worried that you could have suffered long-term health consequences from it, talk with your doctor about getting tested.
Depleted uranium is a by-product of the nuclear fuel enrichment process, which extracts uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. The final product is highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is used to make nuclear bombs and reactors. The leftover material contains about 0.7% U-235, leaving it very radioactive but still useful for radiation shielding because of its high density.
The main reason for using depleted uranium for radiation shielding is that it is nearly twice as dense as lead, which means the shielding can be half the thickness. This can save you money on materials or allow you to use less material while still meeting your safety requirements! Depleted uranium has also been used in ammunition because of its density and ability to penetrate armor plating—a major advantage during wartime!
In addition to being used in radiation shielding, depleted uranium has been used in ammunition by NATO forces since the 1990s, because it is very dense and therefore penetrates armour well. The United States Army told Live Science that DU ammo is typically fired at targets facing away from the shooter, not toward them.
Though some studies suggest that exposure to depleted uranium can cause health problems, including cancer and lung disease, these links have not been proven in humans. However, there's strong evidence that exposure to high concentrations of radioactive material can increase your risk of developing cancer over time—and DU is radioactive. According to the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), "some people who work directly with depleted uranium may be exposed at levels exceeding its occupational standards for external radiation protection." In fact, according to DOE regulations published on Jan 4th 2016: "The only way for workers who might be exposed in their work activities would be if they breathed in air containing significant amounts of airborne particles containing low-level radioactivity". This means that you would have inhaled larger amounts than are allowed during standard operations at nuclear power plants or fuel reprocessing facilities where enriched uranium is made into fuel rods or pellets; however you wouldn't need any special protection against this kind of contamination as long as it was below certain specified limits
Depleted uranium is radioactive, but it’s not dangerous. It's not a threat to human health or the environment. It’s also not a threat to animals.
Because depleted uranium is a heavy metal, you might think there’d be an issue with its toxicity—but depleted uranium isn't actually toxic in any way that would be harmful to humans or animals.
We hope this article has helped you understand how depleted uranium is used in nuclear reactors. As we have seen, it is a very useful material that can be used for radiation shielding and other purposes.