Dr. Raymond Grills was a DuPont physical chemist who worked at the University of Chicago Met Lab and later at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. While at Hanford, he was one of two men who invented the canning process that sealed uranium slugs for use in Hanford’s water-cooled nuclear reactors. In this interview, he describes the challenges and pressures he and his colleagues had to overcome, and explains why the canning had to be designed perfectly. He also describes humorous encounters with a machinist and a railroad porter while transporting uranium slugs.
Frank G. Foote and James F. Schumar were metallurgists who worked on the Manhattan Project. Foote worked in metallurgy at the Metallurgical Lab at the University of Chicago, while Schumar developed procedures for cladding metallic uranium fuel rods with aluminum for Hanford’s B Reactor and Chicago Pile-3. They discuss the challenges of working with uranium metallurgy, from safety issues to the strange properties of uranium metal. They explain their involvement in designing the slugs used in early nuclear reactors. They also explain how they designed a method to extrude and machine uranium.
Everett Weakly arrived in Hanford in 1950 after graduating from the University of Idaho as a chemical engineer. Weakley was hired by DuPont to can fuel elements in the 300 Area at Hanford. Weakley discusses the different techniques used to extract uranium and explains the methods behind the “triple-dip” process and the “lead-dip” process used to can the uranium fuel elements. Weakley also discusses how the uranium was shipped from Hanford and recounts the safety measures DuPont put in place to protect its workers.