depleted uranium

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depleted uranium

The metal remaining after the most active radioisotope (235U) has been extracted from uranium. It is a heavy metal, used in munitions, e.g., in armor-piercing weapons.

It is estimated that, worldwide, more than 1 million tons of depleted uranium are stored. About 95% of the depleted uranium produced until now is stored as uranium hexafluoride, (D)UF6. The long-term storage of (D)UF6 presents environmental, health, and safety risks because of its chemical instability. When UF6 is exposed to moist air, it reacts with the water in the air to produce UO2F2 (uranyl fluoride) and HF (hydrogen fluoride), which are both highly soluble and toxic.

See: enriched uranium
See also: uranium
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