What is Xenon
What is Xenon – Xe Element
Xenon is a naturally-occurring chemical element with atomic number 54 which means there are 54 protons and 54 electrons in the atomic structure. The chemical symbol for xenon is Xe. Xenon is a colorless, dense, odorless noble gas found in the Earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts.
Xenon was first discovered in 1898 by the Scottish chemist William Ramsay and English chemist Morris Travers. The name xenon for this gas comes from the Greek word ξένον [xenon], neuter singular form of ξένος [xenos], meaning ‘foreign(er)’, ‘strange(r)’, or ‘guest’.
Natural xenon consists of eight stable isotopes, 124Xe (0.095%), 126Xe (0.089%), 128Xe (1.91%), 129Xe (26.4%), 130Xe (4.07%), 131Xe (21.23%), 132Xe (26.91%), 134Xe (10.44%), and one isotope with very long half-life 136Xe (8.86%).
In nuclear industry, especially artificial xenon 135 has a tremendous impact on the operation of a nuclear reactor. For physicists and for reactor operators, it is important to understand the mechanisms that produce and remove xenon from the reactor to predict how the reactor will respond following changes in power level.
Another important isotope is the xenon 133, which has half-life of 5.2 days, and its presence in a reactor coolant indicates (together with xenon 135) a possible failure of fuel cladding. A new defect will often result in a step increase in only the Xe-133 activity, which is measured from reactor coolant. As the defect enlarges, the release rate of the soluble, longer-lived nuclides, particularly I-131, I-134, Cs-134, and Cs-137 will increase.