Superior Tube and The Nuclear Era
From its earliest days, Superior Tube has adapted itself to the new needs created by the latest scientific and technological advances. In the 1940s, one of these key developments was the harnessing of nuclear power. During World War II, Superior was providing specialist tubing for a number of organizations that were directly involved in the Manhattan Project, where mankind first learned to control the energy of the atom.
After the war, Superior Tube became an early and dynamic entrant into America’s civil nuclear tubing industry, not only supplying materials but also helping to develop the supporting technology. In 1946, the company provided tubing for the experimental nuclear physics research program at the University of Rochester, New York, which was then building a synch-cylotron, a modification of the cyclotron. In the following year, Columbia University turned to Superior for the tubing it needed for its Radiation Lab.
This was also the decade in which Superior Tube first began to take an interest in zirconium. Initially, the metal was treated primarily as a laboratory ‘curiosity’ by the company’s Department of Metallurgy but it was soon to become an especially attractive metal for the new and growing nuclear energy community as its characteristics include both high corrosion resistance and low neutroncapture.
By the end of the decade, the foundations were firmly laid for Superior’s ongoing role, right up to the present day, as a key supplier to the world’s nuclear power industry.
As a footnote, it is also important to mention that it was during the 1940s that Superior Tube made its first visit to Fine Tubes Ltd, now our UK sister company, having signed an agreement with Air Material Command to survey European cathode producers.