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IYPT Elements

IYPT 2019 Elements 098: Californium: Nuclear reactors and aircraft corrosion detection

Element 98 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is californium. Californium is used to help start up nuclear reactors, in oil wells, and is also used to detect corrosion in aircraft parts.

Californium is one of the few superheavy elements to have practical uses, most of which are related to its neutron-emitting properties. It can be used as a source of neutrons to start up some nuclear reactors.

The neutrons californium emits can also penetrate materials, allowing californium to be used to detect corrosion in metal aircraft and metal components. It can also be used in the scanning of nuclear fuel rods.

Californium also finds usage in oil wells, where it’s used in neutron moisture gauges to find water and petroleum layers.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.