Benefits of Plutonium
Benefits of Plutonium
Plutonium is a metal whose name is derived from Pluto, the planet. This metal is radioactive in nature and it has a silvery appearance. Since plutonium usually radiates heat, it is a bit warm to touch. This particular metal is present in small amounts in uranium ores and minerals, but it is artificially created to produce significant quantities. The following are some key plutonium benefits.
1. Produces nuclear power
The major plutonium benefit is obviously production of nuclear power. Plutonium is usually formed inside nuclear reactors after uranium has been processed. Additionally, plutonium is also used in a fast neutron reactor where it acts like a fuel. The nuclear power produced due to plutonium has far reaching advantages and applications.
2. Nuclear weapons
Large quantities of plutonium are produced each year through extracting it mainly from uranium. Some of this plutonium is used for the production of nuclear weapons. In fact, just one kg of plutonium is required to cause a huge explosion that is equal to 25,000 tons of explosives.
3. Heat source
The radioactive nature of plutonium gives it the capability of generating heat. Actually, if you touched this metal you would feel that is warm. That is why plutonium is used like a source of power and heat aboard spacecrafts. Furthermore, minute quantities of this mineral are normally used in modern pacemakers.
Health effects and toxicity
There are some major routes through which plutonium gets into humans who may have an exposure to it. These routes include contamination of any open wounds, inhalation and ingestion. However, the main danger to humans is usually associated with inhalation. If inhaled, plutonium is readily transferred and deposited to various body parts, particularly the bones and liver. This usually leads to cancer. In short, plutonium is amongst the numerous toxic materials which have to be carefully handled to reduce the associated risks.
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Written by : Harri Daniel and updated on June 7, 2012