Tags: u235 | uranium | nuclear | iran

Uranium Enrichment Dates Back to World War II

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Friday, 03 Apr 2015 01:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The endless negotiations between Iran and Western powers continue with the aim of curtailing the use of high-speed centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. Reading the news, you may wonder where this technology came from.

This technology actually dates from the time of World War II, where, besides the U.S. and England, Germany and Japan too tried to develop atomic bombs, since the basic physical laws were well known.

There was a choice between two different types of fuel for such bombs: plutonium, which is created in a special “breeder” atomic power plant, or enriched uranium called U235.

While the U.S. had no problem creating sufficient plutonium at their Hanford, Wash., nuclear reactor, creating fissionable uranium proved more difficult. Different methods, such as a gas diffusion process and an electromagnetic separation method were tried at the Oakridge Tenn., facility with not much success, due to low efficiency of these procedures.

The Germans, not having a breeder reactor, instead concentrated on the uranium enrichment process. After trying the same methods as in the U.S., which proved similar insufficient, one of their professors came up with the idea of dissolving the uranium ore in hexafluoride and then spinning the gas at high speed to separate the heavier isotopes.

This proved successful, since the first 10 prototypes already yielded 7.5 percent of U235. Based on these results, the German government allocated sufficient money to build hundreds of additional centrifuges in order to obtain at least 20 percent purity (minimum required to obtain fission, modern bombs use above 90 percent U235).

A plant facility was built close to the Polish border (away from possible air attacks). For security reasons, the plant housing the centrifuges, was called a buna-n facility; where buna-n is an artificial rubber. At the end of the war Germany had produced 1,230 pounds of enriched uranium dioxide (UO2, containing the solidified gas of U235).

The Germans then tried to ship this heavy and radioactive metal to Japan but it never arrived.

In January 1945, the Russian army discovered this buna-n facility and evacuated the centrifuges to Russia, where they likely played an important role to create the Russian atomic bomb a few years later.

Later on, the centrifuge process was adopted by other countries, including South Africa, which in the 1970s helped to develop a neutron bomb for the state of Israel.

Hans Baumann is a licensed engineer in four states and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. He is an adviser to the dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. Baumann has published manuals on valves and was a contributor to many works including the "Instrument Engineers' Handbook" and the "Control Valves Handbook." He has also published several books on business management and German history. His book "Hitler's Escape," suggests that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide and survived World War II. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
 


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The endless negotiations between Iran and Western powers continue with the aim of curtailing the use of high-speed centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. Reading the news, you may wonder where this technology came from.
u235, uranium, nuclear, iran
485
2015-20-03
Friday, 03 Apr 2015 01:20 PM
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