• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Plutonium is a radioactive metallic element. It is found occasionally found in nature.

Extracts from this document...


Harsh Mungala                                                                                                                                                  MYP Assessment:

Glenis Goodman                                                                                                                                        Introducing an Element

10th grade Chemistry



Plutonium is a radioactive metallic element. It is found occasionally found in nature. Although, most of the time it is artificially produced in laboratories. The official chemical symbol for plutonium is "Pu", coming from its first and third letter of its full name. It has a atomic number of 94 and an atomic weight of [244] and it belongs to the Actinide Series. It has a very strange electron configuration of 2,8,18,32,24,8,2. Plutonium has a very high melting point of 620oC and an extremely high boiling point of 3460oC. The density of Plutonium, at twenty degrees centigrade, is 1986 grams per cubic centimeter.

Plutonium was discovered, in the laboratory, by Glenn Theodore Seaborg, and his assistant Edward M. McMillan. The two shared the Nobel prize in 1951 for their investigations on Plutonium (Pu) and discoveries of Americium (Am), Curium (Cm), Berkelium (Bk), and Californium (Cf).

Later on, Seaborg contributed with the discovery of three more radioactive elements, Einsteinium (Es), Mendelevium (Md), and Nobelium (No).

...read more.


Currently, there are fifteen known isotopes of Plutonium”, with mass numbers ranging between 232 and 246. The most important isotope is plutonium239 (also known as 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 is called a chain-reaction and produces enormous amounts of energy. This energy is often used to power nuclear reactors, or to provide the energy for nuclear weapons.

Although plutonium is useful for generating electricity in nuclear power plants for our homes, it has other uses as well. The Plutonium isotope Pu238 is used to power all the long-range space missions. This isotope has a half life of almost 90 years. Batteries would not last long enough to power a space mission and solar power decreases to fast as the distance from the sun increases, making solar power unusable with current technology.

...read more.


        Another disadvantage is that it is hard to dispose. What many countries have done to overcome this problem is dump the radioactivity Plutonium into the seas, destroying marine life. Due to this problem much of Brazilian marine life forms were in danger. It took a very long time to settle the problem. But even today many countries make that mistake. Unfortunately, even I cannot suggest a better solution to this problem....  

Bibliography (text):




Encarta 1999 (CD)

The Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science. Authors: Corinne Stockley, Chris Oxlade, Jane Wertheim

Friend living in Brazil

Bibliography (pictures):

www.chemsoc.org/viselements/pages/ data/plutonium_data.html

www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/ 1951/seaborg-bio.html

web.umr.edu/~reactor/ basicphysics.html

www.floridatoday.com/space/explore/ probes/cassini/tower2.jp

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Radioactivity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Radioactivity essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is nuclear power the future? Should we build more nuclear power stations in ...

    4 star(s)

    This is an often overlooked part of nuclear power. According to CND 'it has taken the lives of many miners all over the world causing environmental contamination, cancers and nuclear waste.'[11] Uranium mining is also polluting, so nuclear power is not as clean as it may seem. Since uranium is mined using open pit mining, it devastates large areas of the landscape.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Determine the penetrating power and the range in air of the three radioactive emissions ...

    4 star(s)

    However there is a count rate of 4 counts per minute at 2 cm. The count rate decreases as the distance increases. Again the decrease is rapid and steadies at about 15 cm. The calculated range for beta is 1 m however this experiment counted the last beta emission at 40 cm this is less than half the theoretical range.

  1. Nuclear Power

    graph shows that the most deaths have come from nuclear power at 4056 deaths. It must be expressed that only 51 of these were immediate within the first ten days of the incident occurring. However, other biased sources such as Greenpeace have estimates the figure closer to 10,000 but no other major organisation has backed up making it invalid.

  2. The Importance Of Radioactive Decay And Half-Life.

    The fourth mode of decay, gamma radiation, consists of the emission of waves of electromagnetic energy. Scientists describe the radioactivity of an element in terms of half-life-the time the element takes to lose half of its activity through decay. This covers an extraordinary range of time, from a few microseconds to billions of years.

  1. Brief History of the atom model.

    the lower left is the radiation source, and the yellow trails are the paths of the radiation). The only possible solution to these results meant that the Plum Pudding model of the atom was incorrect. Rutherford, along with his top assistant Niels Bohr, developed their own model of the atom.


    In practical terms they are therefore limited to some 10-20% of the capacity of an electricity grid, and cannot directly be applied as economic substitutes for nuclear power, however it is important that they may become in particular areas with favourable conditions" http://en.wikipedia.ord/wiki/Nuclear_power_debate This quote is implying that all other

  1. What radon is and how it is formed by radioactive decay

    Instead of just bridging a radon-filled gap, it sinks in and fills it. Such deep caulking also withstands hydrostatic pressure. Polyurethane remains flexible for years, as the house settles and concrete moves. Sometimes, the wall/floor joints are smudged over by a thin layer of concrete, which easily lets in radon.

  2. The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power and fossil fuels and which is the ...

    4 Faraday's law states5: E = N x ??/?t volts Where E is energy, N is the number of turns, ? is magnetic flux and t is time. This means that is the number of turns in the coil is increased, so is the energy produced.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work