Uranium-236

Full table
General
Name, symbol
Uranium-236,
236
U
Neutrons 144
Protons 92
Nuclide data
Natural abundance
< 10
-11
Half-life
2.348 x10
7
years
Parent isotopes
236
Pa
236
Np
240
Pu
Decay products
232
Th
Isotope mass 236.045568(2) u
Spin 0+
Binding energy 1790415.042 ± 1.974 keV
Decay mode Decay energy
Alpha 4.572 MeV
Actinides
[1]
by decay chain
Half-life
range (a)
Fission products by yield
[2]
4n 4n+1 4n+2 4n+3 4.5–7% 0.04–1.25% <0.001%
228
Ra

4–6

155
Eu
þ
244
Cm
241
Pu
ƒ 250
Cf
227
Ac

10–29
90
Sr
85
Kr
113m
Cd
þ
232
U
ƒ 238
Pu
243
Cm
ƒ
29–97
137
Cs
151
Sm
þ 121m
Sn
248
Bk
[3]
249
Cf
ƒ
242m
Am
ƒ
141–351
No fission products
have a half-life
in the range of
100–210k years…
241
Am
251
Cf
ƒ[4]
430–900
226
Ra
№ 247
Bk 1.3k–1.6k
240
Pu
229
Th
246
Cm
243
Am 4.7k–7.4k
245
Cm
ƒ 250
Cm 8.3k–8.5k
239
Pu
ƒ
24.1k
230
Th

231
Pa

32k–76k
236
Np
ƒ 233
U
ƒ 234
U

150k–250k

99
Tc
₡ 126
Sn
248
Cm
242
Pu 327k–375k
79
Se

1.53M
93
Zr
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Uranium-236 is an isotope of uranium that is neither fissile
with thermal neutrons, nor very good fertile material, but is
generally considered a nuisance and long-lived radioactive
waste. It is found in spent nuclear fuel and in the reprocessed
uranium made from spent nuclear fuel.
1 Creation and yield
2 Destruction and decay
3 Difficulty of separation
4 Contribution to radioactivity of reprocessed uranium
5 Depleted uranium
6 See also
7 References
8 External links
The fissile isotope uranium-235 fuels most nuclear reactors.
U-235 that absorbs a thermal neutron may go one of two
ways. About 82% of the time, it will
fission. About 18% of the time it will
not fission, instead emitting gamma
radiation and yielding U-236. Thus,
the yield of U-236 per 100 U-235+n
reactions is about 18%, and the yield
per 100 fissions is about 22%. In
comparison, the yields of the most
abundant individual fission products
like Cs-137, Sr-90, Tc-99 are between
6% and 7% per 100 fissions, and the
combined yield of medium-lived (10
years and up) and long-lived fission
products is about 32%, or a few
percent less as some are destroyed by
neutron capture.
The second most used fissile isotope
plutonium-239 can also fission or not
fission on absorbing a thermal
neutron. The product plutonium-240
makes up a large proportion of
Actinides and fission products by half-life
Uranium-236 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-236
1 of 4 1.3.2014 21:09
237
Np 2.1M–6.5M
135
Cs
₡ 107
Pd
236
U
247
Cm
ƒ
15M–24M
129
I

244
Pu

80M
...nor beyond 15.7M
[5]
232
Th

238
U

235
U
ƒ№
0.7G–14.1G
Legend for superscript symbols
₡ has thermal neutron capture cross section in the range of 8–50 barns
ƒ fissile
m metastable isomer
№ naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)
þ neutron poison (thermal neutron capture cross section greater than 3k barns)
† range 4a–97a: Medium-lived fission product
‡ over 200ka: Long-lived fission product
reactor-grade plutonium (plutonium
recycled from spent fuel that was
originally made with enriched natural
uranium and then used once in an
LWR). Pu-240 decays with a half-life
of 6561 years into U-236. In a closed
nuclear fuel cycle, most Pu-240 will
be fissioned (possibly after more than
one neutron capture) before it decays,
but Pu-240 discarded as nuclear waste
will decay over thousands of years.
While the largest part of uranium-236
has been produced by neutron capture
in nuclear power reactors, it is for the
most part stored in nuclear reactors and waste repositories. The most significant contribution to uranium-236
abundance in the environment is the
238
U(n,3n)
236
U reaction by fast neutrons in thermonuclear weapons. The
bomb-testing of 1950s and 1960s has raised the environmental abundance levels significantly above the
expected natural levels.
[6]
236
U, on absorption of a thermal neutron, does not undergo fission, but becomes
237
U, which quickly beta
decays to
237
Np. However, the neutron capture cross section of
236
U is low, and this process does not happen
quickly in a thermal reactor. Spent nuclear fuel typically contains about 0.4% U-236. With a much greater cross-
section,
237
Np may eventually absorb another neutron, becoming
238
Np, which quickly beta decays to
plutonium-238.
236
U and most other actinides are fissionable by fast neutrons in a nuclear bomb or a fast neutron reactor. A
small number of fast reactors have been in research use for decades, but widespread use for power production is
still in the future.
Uranium-236 alpha decays with a half-life of 23.420 million years to thorium-232. It is longer-lived than any
other artificial actinides or fission products produced in the nuclear fuel cycle. (Plutonium-244 which has a
half-life of 80 million years is not produced in significant quantity by the nuclear fuel cycle, and the longer-lived
U-235, U-238, and thorium-232 occur in nature.)
Unlike plutonium, minor actinides, fission products, or activation products, chemical processes cannot separate
U-236 from U-238, U-235, U-232 or other uranium isotopes. It is even difficult to remove with isotopic
separation, as low enrichment will concentrate not only the desirable U-235 and U-233 but the undesirable
U-236, U-234 and U-232. On the other hand, U-236 in the environment cannot separate from U-238 and
concentrate separately, which limits its radiation hazard in any one place.
Uranium-236 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-236
2 of 4 1.3.2014 21:09
U-238's halflife is about 190 times as long as U-236; therefore U-236 should have about 190 times as much
specific activity. That is, in reprocessed uranium with 0.5% U-236, the U-236 and U-238 will produce about the
same level of radioactivity. (U-235 contributes only a few percent.)
The ratio is less than 190 when the decay products of each are included. U-238's decay chain to uranium-234
and eventually lead-206 involves emission of eight alpha particles in a time (hundreds of thousands of years)
short compared to the halflife of U-238, so that a sample of U-238 in equilibrium with its decay products (as in
natural uranium ore) will have eight times the alpha activity of U-238 alone. Even purified natural uranium
where the post-uranium decay products have been removed will contain an equilibrium quantity of U-234 and
therefore about twice the alpha activity of pure U-238. Enrichment to increase U-235 content will increase
U-234 to an even greater degree, and roughly half of this U-234 will survive in the spent fuel. On the other hand,
U-236 decays to thorium-232 which has a halflife of 14 billion years, equivalent to a decay rate only 31.4% as
great as that of U-238.
Depleted uranium used in kinetic energy penetrators, etc. is supposed to be made from uranium enrichment
tailings that have never been irradiated in a nuclear reactor, not reprocessed uranium. However, there have been
claims that some depleted uranium has contained small amounts of U-236.
[7]
Lighter:
uranium-235
uranium-236 is an
isotope of
uranium
Heavier:
uranium-237
Decay product of:
protactinium-236
neptunium-236
plutonium-240
Decay chain
of uranium-236
Decays to:
thorium-232
Depleted uranium
Uranium market
Nuclear reprocessing
United States Enrichment Corporation
Nuclear fuel cycle
Nuclear power
^ Plus radium (element 88). While actually a sub-actinide, it immediately precedes actinium (89) and follows a
three element gap of instability after polonium (84) where no isotopes have half-lives of at least four years (the
longest-lived isotope in the gap is radon-222 with a half life of less than four days). Radium's longest lived isotope,
at a notable 1600 years, thus merits the element's inclusion here.
1.
^ Specifically from thermal neutron fission of U-235, e.g. in a typical nuclear reactor. 2.
^ Milsted, J.; Friedman, A. M.; Stevens, C. M. (1965). "The alpha half-life of berkelium-247; a new long-lived
isomer of berkelium-248". Nuclear Physics 71 (2): 299. doi:10.1016/0029-5582(65)90719-4 (http://dx.doi.org
/10.1016%2F0029-5582%2865%2990719-4).
3.
Uranium-236 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-236
3 of 4 1.3.2014 21:09
"The isotopic analyses disclosed a species of mass 248 in constant abundance in three samples analysed over a
period of about 10 months. This was ascribed to an isomer of Bk
248
with a half-life greater than 9 y. No growth of
Cf
248
was detected, and a lower limit for the β

half-life can be set at about 10
4
y. No alpha activity attributable to
the new isomer has been detected; the alpha half-life is probably greater than 300 y."
^ This is the heaviest isotope with a half-life of at least four years before the "Sea of Instability". 4.
^ Excluding those "classically stable" isotopes with half-lives significantly in excess of
232
Th, e.g. while
113m
Cd
has a half-life of only fourteen years, that of
113
Cd is nearly eight quadrillion.
5.
^ Winkler, Stephan; Peter Steier, Jessica Carilli (2012). "Bomb fall-out 236U as a global oceanic tracer using an
annually resolved coral core" (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X12005638). Earth and
Planet. Sci. Lett. 359-360: 124–130. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2012.10.004 (http://dx.doi.org
/10.1016%2Fj.epsl.2012.10.004).
6.
^ http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/unep81.doc.htm 7.
Uranium | Radiation Protection Program | US EPA (http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides
/uranium.htm)
NLM Hazardous Substances Databank - Uranium, Radioactive (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin
/sis/search/r?dbs+hsdb:@term+@na+@rel+uranium,+radioactive)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Uranium-236&oldid=588248485"
Categories: Actinides Isotopes of uranium Nuclear materials
This page was last modified on 29 December 2013 at 19:27.
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may
apply. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
Uranium-236 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-236
4 of 4 1.3.2014 21:09