Crawford Greenewalt (1902-1993) was an American chemical engineer. He was one of the managers of the Manhattan Project for DuPont.
When the DuPont Company signed on to the Manhattan Project in late 1942, Greenewalt was sent to investigate the project. In Chicago, he witnessed Enrico Fermi’s first chain reaction. Just two weeks later he was assigned to be the liaison between the physicists at the Chicago Met Lab and the engineers at Wilmington, Delaware. The challenge was to translate the scientists’ theoretical ideas into workable blueprints for the production of plutonium on a massive scale at the B Reactor being built in Hanford, WA.
At the outset, Greenewalt was quoted as saying “Our chances of putting it over on time are not much better than one in four.” Undaunted, he devoted himself to making the ambitious project successful. When the B Reactor unexpectedly shut down shortly after starting up on September 26, 1944, Greenewalt stayed at the reactor until 2 o’clock in the morning working on solving the mystery. It was xenon poisoning.
Greenewalt was legendary for the skill he showed in managing and entertaining debates and for concluding them decisively. Intelligent, energetic and dedicated, Greenewalt is a sterling example of why the Manhattan Project succeeded.
Greenewalt later became President of DuPont. To learn more about Greenewalt, watch or purchase AHF’s documentary film, “The Uncommon Man: Crawford H. Greenewalt.”