The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb

Part II: Early Government Support

Centrifuge

Many scientists initially thought the best hope for isotope separation was the high-speed centrifuge, a device based on the same principle as the cream separator. Centrifugal force in a cylinder spinning rapidly on its vertical axis would separate a gaseous mixture of two isotopes since the lighter isotope would be less affected by the action and could be drawn off at the center and top of the cylinder. A cascade system composed of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of centrifuges could produce a rich mixture. This method, being pursued primarily by Jesse W. Beams at the University of Virginia, received much of the early isotope separation funding. 10


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