AUTHORCarlisle, Rodney P. / Zenzen, Joan M.
TITLESupplying the Nuclear Arsenal: American Production Reactors 1942-1992
PUBLISHERJohns Hopkins University Press
CITYBaltimore, MD

This book features America’s production reactors that manufactured plutonium, tritium, and other materials necessary for the warheads of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. It begins with basic atomic pile theory, and describes the first successful pile at University of Chicago, built by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard. The book explains the bureaucracy that surrounded the early pile effort of the Manhattan Project, DuPont’s reactors in Hanford, Washington. The authors discuss the design of the Hanford plant, safety concerns, and the problem with xenon poisoning. They trace the role of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) after the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb in 1949. The book includes three chapters on the Du Pont’s Savannah River reactor, including the flexible engineering of the R-reactor. The nuclear arms control treaties from 1963 to 1979 are outlined in reference to U.S. production of nuclear materials. The authors close the book with a call for a new commitment to the production of tritium as a way to ensure continued nuclear deterrence. An interesting bibliographic essay is included at the end of the book.

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