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- Name: Plutonium
- Symbol: Pu
- Atomic Number: 94
- Atomic Weight: 244 u
- Period: 7
- Group: N/A
26 Plutonium Facts for Kids
- Plutonium is a chemical element on the periodic table.
- Plutonium is a radioactive metal and in its pure form is a silvery white color.
- Plutonium is named after the former planet Pluto, which itself is named after Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld.
- Plutonium was first created and isolated on Saturday, December 14th, 1940 at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California. It was created using uranium-238 by bombarding it with deuterons in a 60 inch cyclotron.
- The four discovers of plutonium are Glenn T. Seaborg, Joseph W. Kennedy, Arthur Whal and Edwin McMillan.
- Because of World War 2 and the potential of plutonium the discovery was kept a secret until 1948.
- The symbol for plutonium is Pu.
- The atomic number for plutonium is 94.
- Out of all naturally occurring chemical elements, plutonium is the one with the highest atomic number.
- The standard atomic weight of plutonium is 244 u.
- Plutonium is a solid at room temperature.
- Plutonium is in the actinide element category on the periodic table.
- Plutonium is a period 7 chemical element, which is the seventh row on the periodic table.
- Plutonium is not part of a group.
- Plutonium is in the f-block on the periodic table.
- The electron configuration for plutonium is [Rn] F56 7s 2.
- The electrons per shell for plutonium are 2, 8, 18, 32, 24, 8, 2.
- Plutonium has no stable isotopes.
- The main isotopes of plutonium are 238Pu, 239Pu, 240Pu, 241Pu, 242Pu and 244Pu.
- The melting point for plutonium is 1182.9 °F (639.4 °C).
- The boiling point for plutonium is 5842 °F (3228 °C).
- Plutonium-238 is used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which can be used as a power source for satellites and space probes.
- The NASA Voyager spacecrafts launched in 1977 both contained a 500 watt plutonium power source. It’s estimated that these power sources will continue to function through 2025 and potentially 2030.
- Plutonium-239 is used in nuclear reactors as fuel to produce power for an electrical grid.
- Plutonium-239 is used in nuclear weapons, the deadliest weapons humans have ever created.
- The first plutonium-based nuclear weapon used in war was Fat Man. It was dropped on the city of Nagasaki in Japan on August 9th, 1945 at 11:01 local time. The Fat Man bomb produced an explosion yield equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT with only 13.6 pounds of plutonium.
Additional Resources on Plutonium
- Plutonium (Pu) – Discover more about the chemical element plutonium on the Los Alamos National Laboratory website.
- Plutonium for Kids – Find more information about the chemical element plutonium for kids on the Britannica Kids website.
- Plutonium and Your Health – Learn about the benefits and/or risks of plutonium to your health on the CDC website.
- Plutonium – PubChem – Read more about plutonium and the data behind it on the NIH PubChem website.