AUTHORReed, B. Cameron
TITLEThe Feed Materials Program of the Manhattan Project: A Foundational Component of the Nuclear Weapons Complex
PERIODICAL TITLEPhysics in Perspective
DATE PUBLISHEDDecember 2014
VOLUME NUMBER16
ISSUE NUMBER4
PAGE NUMBERS461-479
ISSN1422-6944


This paper uses information from the Manhattan Project’s documents to examine the sources and processing of uranium ores into materials used for the first nuclear weapons. Sources of uranium ore included the Belgian Congo, Canada, and the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Plants in Canada and the Eastern U.S. converted the concentrated ore into feed materials for enriching uranium at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and producing plutonium at Hanford, Washington. The author describes the evolution of the feed materials program into a foundational component of the post-war nuclear weapons complex, as well as the development of new chemical techniques for mass-producing various uranium compounds and uranium metal. The companies involved in the program included DuPont, Eldorado Mining and Refining, Harshaw Chemicals, Mallinckrodt, and Electro-Metallurgical. A number of tables provide useful supplementary information.


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