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Nuclear Testing


Castle Romeo



Castle Romeo Device


(Satellite image courtesy of Google Earth)


Operation:   Castle

Shot:   Romeo

Test Site:   Pacific Proving Ground, Bikini Atoll

Location:   Detonated on a barge located in the Castle Bravo crater   ( Shown in picture above )

Test Date:   03/26/54

Device Type:   Thermonuclear Fusion

Nominal Yield:   11 Megatons     ( 733 Times More Powerful Than Hiroshima Japan )

Latitude:   11-41-50

Longitude:   165-16-21


Romeo shot of Operation Castle was one of six detonation tests held at the Atomic Energy Commission's Pacific Proving Ground in the Spring of 1954.  This test series, principally conducted at the Enewetak and Bikini Atolls in the northwestern Marshall Islands, provided proof for a workable thermonuclear weapon.

2H + 3H = α + n + 17.587994 MeV
} or {
D + T = α + n + 17.587994 MeV
(deuterium + tritium = alpha + neutron + 17.587994 Million electron Volts)
[α = helium nuclei fusion product]

The energy release is the direct result of the nuclear fusion of dissociated Lithium6 Deuteride.  6Li is a very low density metal, comprising just 7.4% of natural lithium.  6Li is separated from natural Li by an ionic exchange chemical process, where a lithium/mercury amalgam, prepared using natural Li is agitated with a lithium hydroxide solution, also prepared from natural Li.  6Li concentrates into the amalgam, while 7Li migrates into the hydroxide.  The mercury and 6Li are then separated using fractional distillation.  The basic principle behind a thermonuclear weapon, is to place a single small fission bomb, known as the primary, at the point of a cone shaped X-ray reflector (typically polished U238) which focuses and concentrates the X-rays produced by the fission explosion upon a compressed ceramic column of solid 6LiD in order to implode and intensely heat these fusile elements.  Thermal neutrons released from the fission primary then bombard the 6Li.  When a slow thermal neutron is absorbed by the 6Li, it is transmuted into tritium (H3).  Intense pressure is required in order to increase the probability of nuclear fusion (by overcoming the natural electrostatic repulsion of H atoms).  This pressure is produced on two fronts, first the inertial confinement compression, where you counteract the explosive force released by the primary using an inwardly directed momentum upon the fusile fuel, combined with the direct compression and heating caused by the X-rays produced by the primary, and second using a small cylindrical rod of Pu239 (called the "spark plug") which is inserted through the axis of the 6LiD cone.  Thermal neutrons from the primary induce super criticality in the rod, causing both the opposing wave front expanding radially (by the fission of the rod) and by generating fast neutrons which induces fission of the U238 neutron reflector.  When the heat and pressure between these two wave fronts reach a point of criticality (overcoming the electrostatic repulsion of the two hydrogen isotopes), the tritium then atomically fuses with the nearby deuterium, producing 4He (released as an α particle), a neutron, and 2.817907e-12 J of energy.  The α particles, being both highly charged and at extremely high temperature, contribute directly to the formation of the magnificent nuclear fireball shown in the photos above.

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