J.C. Hobbs was an American inventor and engineer who created a key part of the valves used in the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Hobbs was brought on to the Manhattan Project by the head of the Kellex Corporation, Percival Keith, to improve the piping system in the K-25 plant. In part three of his interview with Stephane Groueff, Hobbs discusses the key role he played in troubleshooting problems for K-25 and for other power plants across the country. He emphasizes the importance of the efficiencies he introduced at K-25, and describes some of the technical challenges he and his colleagues faced.
J.C. Hobbs was an American inventor and engineer who created a key part of the valves used in the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Hobbs was brought on to the Manhattan Project by the head of the Kellex Corporation, Percival Keith, to improve the piping system in the K-25 plant. In this interview, Hobbs discusses his career in industrial engineering, the work environment in New York, and the development of the valves that proved crucial to the success of gaseous diffusion.
In the second part of his in-depth interview with journalist Stephane Groueff, General Kenneth Nichols discusses his key role in the Manhattan Project and the chain of command. He explains his relationship with fellow Manhattan Project directors General Leslie R. Groves, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and scientists Vannevar Bush and James B. Conant. Nichols recalls purchasing 1,200 tons of uranium ore from Belgian Edgar Sengier for the project and the challenges of developing a barrier for the gaseous diffusion plant. He also discusses financial accountability and Congressional oversight of the project.
Dr. Alfred Nier was an American physicist well-known for his work on spectrometry. Nier designed the mass spectrometers used for Manhattan Project experiments and his instruments were sent to all of the major Project sites. With his mass spectrometer, Nier helped prove that that U-235 was fissile, not the more abundant isotope U-238. Nier worked for the Kellex Corporation to design and construct the apparatuses used to monitor the separation of Uranium-235 and Uranium-238, as well as leak detectors for the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. In this interview, Nier discusses his early involvement in the Manhattan Project in New York and the transport of uranium between Project sites. He also discusses his experiences working at both the Nash Garage Building in New York City, and the K-25 Plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Arthur Squires was a chemical engineer and participated in the design, construction, and operation of the K-25 diffusion plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Squires describes the lead developer, Percival Keith, as well as Manson Benedict, both of whom he credits as key contributors to the plant’s development. Squires discusses the impact of the K-25 plant, saying that without its development, it is likely that two atomic bombs would not have been ready into at least mid-1946. He also highlights the level of secrecy surrounding the work on the Manhattan Project. In 1946, Squires went on to work with Keith’s new company, Hydrocarbon Research.
Arthur Squires was born in Kansas and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Missouri, and went on to Cornell University for his graduate degree. He was a chemical engineer and participated in the design, construction, and operation of the K-25 diffusion plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working under Percival Keith and Manson Benedict. In this interview, Squires recounts how he contributed to the scientific research and problem-solving that helped make the K-25 plant possible. In the discussion, Stephane Groueff asks Squires about his relationships with the other scientists, developers, and academic teams.
Sir Hugh Taylor was a British-born chemist and the first man to create pure, radioactive heavy water. He worked as a consultant for the Kellex Corporation during the Manhattan Project while maintaining his duties as a professor at Princeton University. After working on the heavy water problem in Trail, British Columbia, Taylor helped design the barrier to be used for uranium separation at the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In this interview with author Stephane Groueff, Sir Hugh discusses his early work with heavy water, the difficulties in the Norris-Adler barrier for uranium separation, and the extensive industrial effort required to complete the million square foot barrier.
KT Keller was appointed President of the Chrysler Corporation in 1935, having served as Vice President since 1926. Keller entered the automotive field as an apprentice without any previous education in engineering or mechanics. His intelligence, hard work, and mechanical skills enabled him to advance all the way to the top of Chrysler, where he guided the company through World War II. In Part 1 of his interview, Keller discusses his childhood and how he became involved in the automotive industry. He also discusses Chrysler’s involvement in the war effort and recounts a visit from President Roosevelt, who took a tour of the company’s tank facility.
General Kenneth David Nichols was a US Army Engineer who served as Manhattan District Engineer in the Manhattan Project, overseeing the uranium and plutonium production at Oak Ridge and Hanford. He worked underneath and alongside General Groves, and collaborated with a number of well-known scientists. He discusses what it was like to work with scientists like Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard, Arthur Compton, and others, and explains some of the project’s conflicts among scientists. He discusses the complex administration of the Manhattan Project, and why he get along better with scientists than General Leslie Groves did. Nichols was also in charge of ore procurement.