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Stuff of Progress: Uranium

The discovery and use of Uranium

The discovery and use of Uranium

Uranium was first used as a coloring agent in the manufacture of pottery. As early as 79 CE, naturally-occurring uranium oxide was ground up into a yellow powder and applied as a pottery glaze.

Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered the element uranium in 1749, but uranium's radioactive significance was only unlocked in 1896 by physicist Henri Becquerel. Pure uranium is a silvery-grey radioactive chemical element.

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Stuff of Progress: Uranium

Stuff of Progress: Uranium

https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=2853

humanprogress.org

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Key Ideas

The discovery and use of Uranium

Uranium was first used as a coloring agent in the manufacture of pottery. As early as 79 CE, naturally-occurring uranium oxide was ground up into a yellow powder and applied as a pottery glaze.

Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered the element uranium in 1749, but uranium's radioactive significance was only unlocked in 1896 by physicist Henri Becquerel. Pure uranium is a silvery-grey radioactive chemical element.

Uranium and electrical energy

  • Uranium is energy-dense. In 2018, uranium powered nuclear reactors produced 2,700 terawatt-hours of ultra low-carbon electricity. One terawatt-hour of energy is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 27,000 European citizens.
  • Electricity production from nuclear energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy production, even when nuclear waste is taken into account. Nuclear waste storage is currently resulting in little mortality and illness, as the waste is contained within the grounds of the nuclear power plants themselves.

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Iron: the fourth most abundant element on earth
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