Question: What Is Pitchblende?
When learning about the element uranium, the term pitchblende commonly pops up. What is pitchblende and what does it have to do with uranium?
Pitchblende, also known by the name uraninite, is a mineral comprised mainly of oxides of the element uranium
. It is our primary source of uranium. The mineral is black in color, like 'pitch'. The term 'blende' came from the German miners who believed it contained many different metals all blended together.
Pitchblende contains many other radioactive elements that can be traced back to the decay of uranium, such as radium
and several actinide
Pitchblende was the source of discovery for several elements. In 1789, Martin Heinrich Klaproth
discovered and identified uranium as a new element from pitchblende. In 1898, Marie
and Pierre Curie
discovered the element radium while working with pitchblende. In 1895, William Ramsay
was the first to isolate helium from pitchblende.