P-9 Project

aesthetics  →
being  →
complexity  →
database  →
enterprise  →
ethics  →
fiction  →
history  →
internet  →
knowledge  →
language  →
licensing  →
linux  →
logic  →
method  →
news  →
perception  →
philosophy  →
policy  →
purpose  →
religion  →
science  →
sociology  →
software  →
truth  →
unix  →
wiki  →
essay  →
feed  →
help  →
system  →
wiki  →
critical  →
discussion  →
forked  →
imported  →
original  →
P-9 Project
[ temporary import ]
please note:
- the content below is remote from Wikipedia
- it has been imported raw for GetWiki
{{good article}}{{use dmy dates|date=March 2014}}(File:Alabama Ordnance Works (1).jpg|thumb|right|Heavy water production plant at Sylacauga, Alabama)The P-9 Project was the codename given during World War II to the Manhattan Project's heavy water production program. The Cominco plant at Trail, British Columbia, was upgraded to produce heavy water. DuPont built three plants in the United States: at the Morgantown Ordnance Works, near Morgantown, West Virginia; at the Wabash River Ordnance Works, near Dana and Newport, Indiana; and at the Alabama Ordnance Works, near Childersburg and Sylacauga, Alabama. The American plants operated from 1943 until 1945. The Canadian plant at Trail continued in operation until 1956. Three nuclear reactors were built using the heavy water produced by the P-9 Project: Chicago Pile 3 at Argonne, and ZEEP and NRX at the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada.


Heavy water is a form of water that contains a larger than normal amount of the hydrogen isotope deuterium, also known as heavy hydrogen, rather than the common hydrogen-1 isotope that makes up most of the hydrogen in ordinary water.{{sfn|Waltham|2002|p=2}} Deuterium was discovered by Harold Urey in 1931 and he was later able to concentrate it in water.JOURNAL, H. C. Urey, Ferdinand G. Brickwedde, G. M. Murphy, A Hydrogen Isotope of Mass 2, Physical Review, 1932, 39, 164–165, 10.1103/PhysRev.39.164, 1932PhRv...39..164U, His mentor Gilbert Newton Lewis isolated the first sample of pure heavy water by electrolysis in 1933.JOURNAL, 341, 1933, 10.1063/1.1749300, MacDonald, G. N., 1, Lewis, The Journal of Chemical Physics, R. T., Concentration of H2 Isotope, 6, 1933JChPh...1..341L, Although a scientific curiosity from the start, considerable interest in heavy water was aroused in 1939 when Hans von Halban and Lew Kowarski suggested that heavy water could be used as a neutron moderator in a nuclear reactor using natural uranium. They carried out experiments on uranium using ordinary water, but had found that the hydrogen atoms absorbed neutrons, thus preventing the desired chain reaction.{{sfn|Waltham|2002|p=6}} Heavy water though, was an ideal moderator. The Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) put Hugh S. Taylor, a British physicist at Princeton University in charge of heavy water research. Taylor and Urey began looking at means for producing heavy water on an industrial scale. For his plutonium project, Arthur H. Compton requested {{convert|2|st}} of it.{{sfn|Hewlett|Anderson|1962|pp=66–67}} The heavy water project was codenamed the "P-9 Project" in October 1942.The problem with using heavy water was that it was scarce, and scientists could not readily acquire the quantities required by a reactor. At Columbia University in the United States, Enrico Fermi and Leó Szilárd attempted to use graphite as a moderator instead. This turned out to be possible, but the graphite had to be very pure, as impurities, particularly boron, tended to absorb neutrons.{{sfn|Waltham|2002|p=6}} On 2 December 1942, Fermi's team initiated the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in an experimental reactor known as Chicago Pile-1. For the Manhattan Project, this was a crucial step towards the manufacture of plutonium in a reactor for use in an atomic bomb, but much larger reactors were required for mass production.{{sfn|Hewlett|Anderson|1962|pp=107–112}}


Cominco had been involved in heavy water research since 1934, and produced it at its smelting plant in Trail, British Columbia. On 26 February 1941, the Canadian National Research Council inquired about its ability to produce heavy water. This was followed on 23 July 1941 by letter from Taylor that offered a National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) contract to produce {{convert|2000|lb}}, for which the NDRC was prepared to pay $5 per pound for low-grade and $10 for high-grade heavy water. At the time it was selling for up to $1,130 a pound.Cominco's president, Selwyn G. Blaylock, was cautious. There might be no post-war demand for heavy water, and the patent on the process was held by Albert Edgar Knowles, so a profit-sharing agreement would be required. In response, Taylor offered up $20,000 for plant modifications.JOURNAL, Cominco and the Manhattan Project, C. D., Andrews, 51–62, BC Studies, 0005-2949, 11, Fall 1971,weblink 21 May 2016, {{US patent|2044704}} There the matter rested until 6 December 1941, when Blaylock had a meeting with the British physicist G. I. Higson, who informed him that Taylor had become discouraged with Cominco, and had decided to find an alternative source of heavy water. Blaylock invited Taylor to visit Trail, which he did from 5 to 8 January 1942. The two soon found common ground. Blaylock agreed to produce heavy water at Trail, and quickly secured approval from the Chairman of the Board, Sir Edward Beatty. A contract was signed on 1 August 1942.
To the existing $10 million plant consisting of 3,215 cells consuming 75 MW of hydroelectric power, secondary electrolysis cells were added to increase the deuterium concentration in the water from 2.3% to 99.8%. For this process, Taylor developed a platinum-on-carbon catalyst for the first three stages while Urey developed a nickel-chromia one for the fourth stage tower.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=4.7–4.9}} Seven new parcels of land were acquired totalling {{convert|0.474|acre}} were leased by the U.S. government. Construction was undertaken by Stone & Webster. The final cost was $2.8 million. The Canadian Government did not officially learn of the project until August 1942,{{sfn|Waltham|2002|pp=8–9}}{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=3.3–3.6}} shortly before construction began the following month. It was completed on 30 June 1943, at a cost of $2,604,622.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=4.7–4.9}}Production rose steadily from {{convert|15|lb}} in June 1943 to {{convert|326|lb}} in January 1944, {{convert|1055|lb}} in January 1945 and {{convert|1305|lb}} in January 1946.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|p=5.5.1}} The running cost of the plant averaged $32,979 per month over the period from June 1943 to December 1946,{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|p=5.10}} when the Manhattan Project was replaced by the Atomic Energy Commission.{{sfn|Jones|1985|p=600}} This worked out to $39 per pound.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|p=5.10}} Trail's heavy water production continued until 1956.{{sfn|Waltham|2002|pp=8–9}}

American sites

(File:Alabama Ordnance Works (2).jpg|thumb|right|Heavy water production plant at Sylacauga, Alabama)The Director of the Manhattan Project, Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., had, in November 1942, recruited DuPont as the prime contractor for the construction of a plutonium production complex{{sfn|Hewlett|Anderson|1962|pp=107–112}} Although DuPont's preferred designs for the nuclear reactors were helium cooled and used graphite as a moderator, DuPont still expressed an interest in using heavy water as a backup, in case the graphite reactor design proved infeasible for some reason. For this purpose, it was estimated that {{convert|3|ST}} of heavy water would be required per month. As the plant at Trail, which was then under construction, could produce {{convert|0.5|ST}} per month, more capacity was required.{{sfn|Jones|1985|pp=107–108}}Groves therefore authorized DuPont to establish additional heavy water facilities at the Morgantown Ordnance Works, near Morgantown, West Virginia; at the Wabash River Ordnance Works, near Dana and Newport, Indiana; and at the Alabama Ordnance Works, near Childersburg and Sylacauga, Alabama. Although known as Ordnance Works and paid for under Ordnance Department contracts, they were built and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Locating them at Ordnance plants saved the cost of acquiring land, since it was already owned by the government, and they already had personnel and utilities, including steam generating equipment. The three American plants used a process different from Trail's; heavy water was extracted by distillation, taking advantage of the slightly higher boiling point of heavy water.{{sfn|Jones|1985|pp=107–108}} This was not considered to be an efficient process, but it was known to work and scale to an industrial process, and therefore represented less risk than other proposals.{{sfn|Hewlett|Duncan|1969|pp=428–429}} Mogantown, Wabash and Alabama were expected to produce {{convert|0.4|ST}}, {{convert|1.2|ST}} and {{convert|0.8|ST}} respectively of heavy water per month,{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|p=S3}} with a concentration of 99.75%.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|p=2.13}}


Works at Morgantown were undertaken by DuPont under a cost-plus fixed fee contract, as was the works at Wabash and Alabama. Construction commenced on 7 January 1943, and was substantially completed ahead of the 1 September scheduled date. The facilities were progressively brought into operation between 29 May and 28 August 1943. The cost was $3,490,069. DuPont's fixed fee was originally $154,882, but this was voluntarily reduced to $88,588 because the cost of construction was considerably less than the $6,034,000 originally estimated.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=4.10–4.9}}The electrolytic finishing plant was established at Morgantown because that plant was under the control of DuPont's Ammonia Division. At this plant the output from the distillation plants, which was about 90% heavy water, was broken down by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. The light hydrogen tends to be drawn off first, leaving the heavy water behind. This process was repeated through several stages to yield a finished product that was 99.75% heavy water.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=3.18–3.21}}


Construction commenced on 23 January 1943, and was substantially completed on 22 October. Stages of the P-9 distillation plant became operational between 17 June and 18 September 1943. Total cost was $7,493,157, including DuPont's fee of $152,472, which was voluntarily reduced from $272,776 because the plant was constructed for substantially less than the allocated $13,665,000.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=4.16–4.21}}


Construction commenced on 11 February 1943, and was completed on 15 November. Stages of the P-9 distillation plant became operational between 29 May and 4 September 1943. Total cost was $3,466,171, including DuPont's fee of $70,368, which was voluntarily reduced from $184,680 because the plant was constructed for substantially less than the allocated $8,285,000.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=4.22–4.24}}


(File:Argonne history Chicago Pile-3.jpg|thumb|right|Chicago Pile-3)The three American plants never achieved the intended production of {{convert|4800|lb}} per month. A series of suggestions for improving production was considered, and the most promising were carried out. The most successful of these was the reconstruction of the first stage towers at Morgantown to reduce leakage, which resulted in a considerable improvement in performance. However, by this time, early 1945, it was decided that production was sufficient, and the expense of doing this at the other plants could not be justified.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=S17–S18}}The P-9 distillation plant at Alabama was closed in June 1945, that at Wabash in July, and the one at Morgantown in August. The electrolytic finishing plant at Morgantown was closed in September. Intermediate product remaining when the plants were closed was sent to Trail. This resulted in approximately {{convert|1600|lb}} of extra production at Trail. Between February 1944 and August 1945, the electrolytic finishing plant at Morgantown, which finished the product for all three plants, produced an average of {{convert|2277|lb}} per month, for a total of {{convert|43253|lb}}.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=S17–S18}}The electrolytic finishing plant also processed {{convert|3151|lb}} from heavy water recovered from Germany by the Manhattan Project's Alsos Mission.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=S17–S18}} The average monthly production cost was $72,000 for Morgantown, $154,000 at Alabama and $197,400 at Wabash, for a total of $423,400. Thus, heavy water cost $186 per pound, excluding the $11,967,000 cost of the plants. If this is included, it cost $550 per pound, compared to $111 per pound at Trail.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=S18–S20}}Intermediate product was shipped from Wabash and Alabama by rail in sealed metal containers. The finished product was shipped by rail from Morgantown via the Monongahela Railway and Trail via the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago.{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=S18-S20}}{{sfn|Manhattan District|1947|pp=3.1, 3.12}} Heavy water from Trail was used for Chicago Pile 3 at Argonne, the first reactor using heavy water and natural uranium. Designed by Eugene Wigner and built under the direction of Walter Zinn, it went critical on 15 May 1944. An allocation of heavy water was used by the Chalk River Laboratories to build ZEEP under Kowarski's direction, which went critical in September 1945. This was followed by its NRX reactor in 1947, which was also moderated by heavy water. Like CP-3 and ZEEP it was used for scientific research, and not for plutonium production.{{sfn|Waltham|2002|pp=8–9}}Demand for heavy water increased in the early 1950s.{{sfn|Hewlett|Duncan|1969|pp=428–429}} The heavy water facility at Wabash, now renamed the Dana Plant by the Atomic Energy Commission, was reopened, and DuPont resumed production of heavy water in May 1952.WEB,weblink 1 March 2014, Historic Properties Report – Newport Army Ammunition Plant, August 1984, The site was used a pilot plant for a new production process using hydrogen sulphide. The heavy water facility was closed again in early 1957.WEB, Heavy Water for the Savannah River Site, J. W. (Bill) Morris, William P. Bebbington, Robert G. Garvin, Mal C. Schroder, and W. C. Scotten,weblink Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, 1 March 2014, The facility, and a larger complex at the Savannah River Site had fulfilled its purpose, supplying heavy water for the plutonium production reactors at Savannah River.WEB,weblink An Atomic History – Chapter 13: Reactors, Fuels, and Power Ascension (1955–1963), Savannah River Site, 1 March 2014,




  • BOOK, Hewlett, Richard G., Richard G. Hewlett, Anderson, Oscar E., The New World, 1939–1946, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962,weblink 26 March 2013, 0-520-07186-7, 637004643, harv,
  • BOOK, Hewlett, Richard G., Duncan, Francis, Atomic Shield, 1947–1952, A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1969, 0-520-07187-5, 3717478, harv,
  • BOOK, Jones, Vincent, Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb, United States Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., 1985,weblink 25 August 2013, 10913875, harv,
  • BOOK, Manhattan District, The P-9 Project, 1947,weblink United States Department of Energy, Washington, DC, 1 March 2014, harv,
  • BOOK, Waltham, Chris, An Early History of Heavy Water, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, 20 June 2002, 30 October 2010,weblink harv,
{{Manhattan Project}}

- content above as imported from Wikipedia
- "P-9 Project" does not exist on GetWiki (yet)
- time: 1:53am EDT - Thu, Oct 17 2019
[ this remote article is provided by Wikipedia ]
LATEST EDITS [ see all ]
Eastern Philosophy
History of Philosophy
M.R.M. Parrott