Heavy Water and the Wartime Race for Nuclear Energy
Heavy water (deuterium oxide) played a sinister role in the race for nuclear energy during the World War II. It was a key factor in Germany's bid to harness atomic energy primarily as a source of electric power; its acute shortage was a factor in Japan's decision not to pursue seriously nuclear weaponry; its very existence was a nagging thorn in the side of the Allied powers. Books and films have dwelt on the Allies' efforts to deny the Germans heavy water by military means; however, a history of heavy water has yet to be written.
Filling this gap, Heavy Water and the Wartime Race for Nuclear Energy concentrates on the circumstances whereby Norway became the preeminent producer of heavy water and on the scientific role the rare isotope of hydrogen played in the wartime efforts by the Axis and Allied powers alike. Instead of a purely technical treatise on heavy water, the book describes the social history of the subject.
The book covers the discovery and early uses of deuterium before World War II and its large-scale production by Norsk Hydro in Norway, especially under German control. It also discusses the French-German race for the Norwegian heavy-water stocks in 1940 and heavy water's importance for the subsequent German uranium project, including the Allied sabotage and bombing of the Norwegian plants, as well as its lesser role in Allied projects, especially in the United States and Canada. The book concludes with an overall assessment of the importance and the perceived importance of heavy water for the German program, which alone staked everything on heavy water in its quest for a nuclear chain reaction.
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THE BRITISH INITIATIVE
GERMAN ARMY ORDNANCE TAKES CHARGE
HEAVY WATER TAKES CENTER STAGE
AMERICA JOINS THE QUEST
NEUTRONS DESPITE BOMBS
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Allied Allier American Anker Olsen April Army Ordnance atomic bomb Aubert Berkeley Berlin Berlin-Dahlem Birkeland Bohr bombardment British Cambridge Chadwick chain reaction chemical chemistry Cockcroft colleagues command Conant concentration Curie cyclotron Dautry deuterium Diebner Director discovery electrolysis energy experiments Farben February Fermi fission France Frédéric French Frisch Gentner Gerlach German Goudsmit graphite Gunnerside Hahn Haigerloch Halban and Kowarski Harteck Haukelid heavy hydrogen heavy water heavy-water heavy-water production Hechingen Heisenberg Herøya high-concentration hydrogen industrial Institute Irène isotope January Joliot Joliot-Curies Jomar Brun Karl Wirtz Kramish laboratory later Leif Tronstad Lewis London March Meitner military Norsk Hydro Norsk Industriarbeidermuseum Norway Norwegian Notes section Notodden nuclear physics nucleus operation Oslo Paris Peierls physicist pile production of heavy protons radiation radioactivity radium reactor Rjukan Rosbaud Rutherford scientific scientists Segrè Skinnarland Suess Szilard tons Trondheim Tungt vann University uranium oxide uranium project Urey Vemork wartime Weart Wirtz