It is 1943 and your group has been assigned the task of developing the entire process for producing enough material for the first uranium bomb. Your facility has a supply of Canadian pitchblende ore that contains approximately 4.2% uranium.
- Describe the metallurgy required to separate uranium from its ore. Include chemical equations.
- Describe the processes used to separate U-235 from U-238. Include equations for the preparation of necessary uranium compounds. Why was it necessary to convert the uranium to these compounds?
- Calculate the amount (in tons) of the pitchblende ore that would be required to produce enough material for the Hiroshima bomb.
- What do your calculations indicate regarding the facilities required to produce U-235 for atomic bombs? Does this correspond with what you know or can ascertain about Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the original production site for U-235?
It is 1942 and Pu-239 has been found to be a fissionable material suitable for an atomic bomb. Your group has been tasked with developing a method for producing Pu-239.
- What is the relationship between U-235 and Pu-239?
- Describe the nuclear processes used to produce plutonium from U-238. Include the nuclear reactions that occur in these processes.
- How was plutonium separated from the U-238 and other fission products when the fuel rods were removed from the reactor? Include chemical equations for the reactions used in this separation.
- How much Canadian pitchblende (4.2%) was required to produce the plutonium required for the Nagasaki bomb? How much waste was generated in producing this amount of plutonium?
- What do these calculations indicate about the facilities needed to produce this quantity of Pu-239? Does this concur with what you know or can find out about the Hanford, Washington, site?
Frank A. Settle (Washington and Lee University)