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Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Ltd.

Trail, B.C. - Canada

Project '9' - Heavy-Water (Deuterium) Production

Selwyn Blaylock - Founder

In 1941 with the entry of the Americans into the Allied war effort, the Trail plant was again employed to be one of Canada’s main producers of war materials. In WWII the Trail plant also became involved in producing heavy water for the development of nuclear bombs in the Manhattan Project. This top-secret part of the CM&S operations was known as “Project 9”. Despite the pressures Blaylock’s workaholic nature caused him to rise to the challenge, transforming the CM&S again into an efficient production unit for the war effort.

For more information:


Project 9: CM&S and the Destruction of Hiroshima

        By 1941, of course, Canada was engaged by World War Two. CM&S quickly converted its Warfield plant to output ordinance grade ammonium nitrate until the needs of food producers switched it back to fertilizer production later on in the War. By that time, though, S.G. Blaylock, now managing director of the Trail installation, had been called upon to apply his staff’s expertise to a much more explosive project.
        In one of its operations, CM&S generated quantities of elemental hydrogen. Scientists had become convinced that it was possible to make war-ending blasts by atomic fission, and the Americans, involved in the War since December 7th, 1941, were determined to be the first. Needful to the process was deuterium oxide, “heavy water,” D2O, which could be produced from electrolytic hydrogen (adds Morgan Brown of Atomic Energy of Canada, “...2 deuterium atoms are joined to one oxygen atom to make a molecule of heavy water. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen - it reacts chemically almost identically to [regular] light hydrogen. Each deuterium atom has a neutron plus a proton in its nucleus [hydrogen has only the proton], thus making it 'heavy'. Deuterium is a naturally-occurring substance - one in about 7000 hydrogen atoms are deuterium. Because deuterium and hydrogen react almost identically chemically, it is hard to separate them. The atoms must be separated [essentially] based on the relative masses.”). There were only two sources in the world: Vemork, Norway, since 1941 under German control, and Trail, where electrolytic hydrogen was a by-product of the CM&S’s sulphur recovery strategy. Unenthusiastic, CM&S was compelled to accept millions of American dollars to build and operate a heavy water plant at Warfield, the top-secret “Project 9.” On January 1st, 1944, it produced its first D2O, and kept producing it until the Americans found an alternate source in the 1950s.




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