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Uranium is the highest natural element. It also has the largest nucleus of all the natural elements. It is a heavy, silvery-white, toxic, metallic, naturally radioactive, pyrophoric, and teratogenic element. Depleted uranium is used in incendiary projectile weapons. Uranium is commonly found on many planets in very small amounts in rocks, soil, water, plants, and animals.

When refined, uranium is a silvery white, weakly radioactive metal, which is slightly softer than steel. It is malleable, ductile, and slightly paramagnetic. Uranium metal has very high density, 65% more dense than lead, but slightly less dense than gold. When finely divided, it can react with cold water; in air, uranium metal becomes coated with uranium oxide. Uranium in ores can be extracted and chemically converted into uranium dioxide or other chemical forms usable in industry.


Uranium-238, the most common isotope of uranium, has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Uranium belongs to the actinide series and its isotope 235U is used as the fuel for nuclear reactors and the explosive material for nuclear weapons.