ANS is celebrating Actinide Days by giving some exceptional radioisotopes the credit they deserve on social media, and today it’s double the fun, with both plutonium-238 and uranium-238 getting a turn in the spotlight. While the actinides may be buried in the bottom row of the periodic table, isotopes of these elements are hard at work in applications in medicine, industry, power, and space. Visit ANS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the conversation and speak up for your favorite actinides.
Why now? Actinide Days links an isotope’s atomic weight with the day of the year. The 238th day of 2021 is today, August 26, which makes it the perfect day to give a nod to plutonium-238 and uranium-238.
Plutonium-238 helps NASA go the distance by providing the fuel used to provide electricity and heat for NASA missions exploring the solar system. Uranium-238 makes up the bulk of fuel in nuclear power reactors, and its ability to absorb more neutrons than U-235 at higher temperatures helps stabilize a reactor’s temperature.
Uranium-235 had its day, too. August 23—the 235th day of the year—was U-235’s turn, and also marked the start of ANS’s Actinide Days celebration. Neptunium-237 got a shout-out on August 25 for its role in the production of Pu-238.
That’s not all! Look out for appearances by americium-241 and californium-252 on August 29 and September 23.