Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

OSTIblog Articles in the plutonium Topic

The Manhattan Project -- Its Operations

by Mary Schorn 29 Nov, 2012 in Science Communications

Major operations for the Manhattan Engineer District (Manhattan Project) took place in remote site locations in the states of Tennessee, New Mexico, and Washington, with additional research being conducted in university laboratories at Chicago and Berkeley.

At the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago, Enrico Fermi's experiments at the CP-1 pile took place to determine the exact amount of neutron reduction needed for a safe and controlled sustained nuclear reaction.  A second pile (CP-2), with external cooling, was built at Argonne in order to move the continuing experiments away from populated areas.

Related Topics: 70th Anniversary, atomic bomb, DOE Research & Development (R&D) Accomplishments, electromagnetic, gaseous diffusion, Manhattan Project, nuclear chain reaction, plutonium, uranium, World War II

Read more...

Powering Curiosity; Exploring New Horizons - DOE's MMRTG

by Mary Schorn 09 Aug, 2012 in Products and Content

DOE's RTG is doing it again. The Department's Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) is providing continuous power to the Mars rover Curiosity.  This radioactive power source is "essentially a nuclear battery that will operate the rover’s instruments, robotic arm, wheels, computers and radio. It is fueled with plutonium-238 that gives off heat as it naturally decays. No moving parts are required to convert this heat into electricity."1

Related Topics: Curiosity, DOE Research & Development (R&D) Accomplishments, Mars rover, MMRTG, New Horizons, Pluto, plutonium, Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, RTG, space battery

Read more...

The Manhattan Project -- Its Establishment

by Mary Schorn 03 Aug, 2012 in Science Communications
President Roosevelt Establishes the Manhattan Project

On August 13, 1942, the Manhattan Engineer District, whose name was based upon the geographical location of its headquarters, was established.  In September, the Army appointed Colonel Leslie R. Groves to head the effort.  Groves held that the exigencies of war required scientists to move from laboratory research to development and production in record time.  Though traditional scientific caution might be short-circuited in the process, there was no alternative if a bomb was to be built in time to be used in the current conflict (World War II).

Various isotope separation methods (uranium enrichment) to produce uranium-235 were being researched at this time.  One was gaseous diffusion being done at Columbia and another was the electromagnetic method being done at Berkeley under Ernest O. Lawrence.  Based upon the success of the electromagnetic method, the S-1 (The Office of Scientific Research and Development Section On Uranium) Executive Committee recommended building plants in Tennessee at Site X (now Oak Ridge).

Related Topics: 70th Anniversary, atomic bomb, DOE Research & Development (R&D) Accomplishments, electromagnetic, fission, gaseous diffusion, Manhattan Project, nuclear chain reaction, plutonium, Roosevelt, uranium, World War II

Read more...