Is it true that the unique properties of uranium will change the world? Substances

Is it true that the unique properties of uranium will change the world?

Researchers working at the University of Manchester in the USA discovered in 2018 that uranium can be used to perform reactions that may prove to be a solution to problems in the field of energy and waste disposal, as well as, oddly enough, help in the development of a new generation of drugs. The team, led by Professor Steve Lidl, head of Organic Chemistry in Manchester, detailed their breakthrough discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

Interesting properties of uranium

The discovery itself was accidental and appeared as part of a research program that has been going on for more than 10 years. Previously, scientists believed that only transition metals were capable of such reactions. The uniqueness of uranium lies in the fact that in the periodic table it is at a kind of "crossroads" and sometimes behaves like lanthanides (row 14), and sometimes as transition metals, Lidl explains.

From the point of view of industrial chemistry, this is a great success: surprisingly, mankind has more uranium than many transition metals — their content in the rock is low, and the extraction technology is very difficult. Lidl notes that literally hundreds of tons of depleted uranium are currently lying idle in warehouses around the world — because this metal is a byproduct in the production of enriched uranium. The scientist believes that good should not be wasted and that a fair amount of benefit can be derived from it.

Uranium in industry

For decades, mankind has been using uranium in nuclear power and as a filling for nuclear weapons. The abundance of depleted uranium has become a problem over time, since measures to dispose of waste and isolate hazardous radioactive materials are not always effective enough. Lidl's team claims that this problem will soon come to an end, since the researchers' discovery should level the amount of nuclear waste to an acceptable minimum.

We are confident that understanding the principles of the correct use of radioactive metals will allow us to come up with other effective ways to dispose of nuclear waste, so that eventually they will cease to pose a threat, Steve explains in an interview with the Futurism portal.

In an official press release from the University of Manchester, Liddle explained that their discovery could lead to the development of new drugs and plastics that will be biodegradable — this will also help rid the Earth of garbage. Currently, it is plastic that is one of the most serious elements of environmental pollution, since it decomposes very slowly in natural conditions. Experts estimate the total amount of plastic used in the global industry at 297.5 million tons.

Uranium and materials of the future

Scientists note that, among other things, uranium also has interesting magnetic properties and can become a potential component for materials of the future. In the event that uranium can indeed be used as a source of peaceful and safe energy, this will make industrial production cycles less wasteful and energy-intensive.