SUMMER JOBS & COURSES & RONALD LYLE

While at Northwestern, I worked in industry for two summers. In the summer of 1954 with Commonwealth Edison in south Chicago and summer 1955 with Universal Oil Products in Des PIaines. In the summer of 1956, I attended a special 10 week course on nuclear power at Argonne National Laboratory.

At Commonwealth Edison, I spent most of my time at the Fisk Street Station which was aboiut 50th Street South in Chicago.. It was not air conditioned and it contained several coal burning boilers and steam tmbine generators. The engineers there had just gotten Freiden mechanical calculators and they calculated everything to about ten places based on dubious data. One day I looked out at the coal pile and saw an old fellow inspecting it. Later they told me he was estimating the tons of coal burned each day. So much for ten place accuracy!

They were trying to get an idea of performance by a first law calculation they called a bogey, From manufacturer's guarantees for boiler, tmbine and generator they tried to calculate what the heat rate should have been for a month then they compared that bogey figure with the actual calculated heat rate. Because of poor instrumrntation and other error the actual heat rate sometimes was better than the bogey which should not be thr case but which they faithfully reported each month. I looked at their procedure and noticed several errors so I improved it somewhat. I talked to Professor Obert about it and he said they should be using a second law availability approach. I tried it but found that they did not have enough measurements to do it. Later Obert's student, Clotworthy Birnie, did such analysis on several Commonwealth Edison units and the results are shown in Obert's Concepts of Thermodynamics book.

One hot summer day, we were sweating in the Fisk station when a person came through and said turn off all of the lights. The Chicago electrical load mostly because of air conditioning for the first time exceeded the winter load and the system was not prepared for it. So to minimize load and hopefully stay on line they wanted to rninimize station use. So we turned off all lights and managed to stay on line.

I was sent to the Calumet Station for a few days and I drove there down the outer drive to the Illinois Indiana border on Lake Michigan. I arrived at the parking lot early in what appeared to be a rough area. I stupidly locked my keys in my car and after considering the alternatives I got a screwdriver out of the trunk and pried open a ventipane. I was concerned that a policeman might see me and think I was stealing the car. But none did and I got the door opened.

For the next summer, the folks at CE wanted me to come back to look into the possibility of setting up small gas tmbine units to give them more flexibility in their load scheduling. With the move to large (100 or more MW units) they had lost t1exiboility in meeting the electrical load I did not go back to them for the next summer for the commuting was very hard and tiring. I had to leave Evanston.shortly after 6 am to get to my work station on time either by elevated train and streetcsr or by auto down the outerdrive. One day on the elevated, we ran into the back of another train and were jarred some. Right after the wreck, the conductor came bustling through taking passenger names. News of the wreck appeared in the newspaper and later I read that more than 10,000 people applied for reimbursement for injuries suffered in the wreck. So after that I drove some but the traffic was terrible and even scary.

For the next summer I worked for Universal Oil Products in Desplaines an easy plesant 10 mile drive from Evanston. A friend of mine Don Bergman was chief engineer at UOP. I knew him through participation in ASME Chicago Section. Once he picked up Prof. Obert and me in Evanston to take us to the ASME meeting in downtown Chicago in his new German Volkswagen convertible. It was a peppy little booger which ran and rode surprisingly well and Don was very proud of it We liked it but we had no idea it would soon be the leading selling import in the USA.

At UOP, I worked some on the analysis of bubble chambers. Don wanted me to try an analysis involving the lost head equivalent length concept ofhydraulics. The analysis worked fine for some cases but failed in others because it did not account for compressibility. UOP developed just before I spent the summer with them a platforming process which produced 100 octane gasoline without the use of lead. At that time it was more expensive than leaded gasoline but when it was decided that the lead was harmful to the environment the refiners turned to the platforming process to produce high octane pure gasoline. UOP was owned by a consortium of oil companies and served as their refinery consultants

By the summer of 1956, Dr. Lockridge formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission was the Dean of Engineering and NSF was sponsoring a special summer program at .Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. Purpose was to let faculty know about atomic energy and future peaceful uses with emphasis on electrical power generation. Both the AEC and NSF had made grants available for nuclear equipment and even small reactors. Dean Lockridge wanted to be sure that NU was included so I plus a Metallurgical Professor and a CE Professor were sent to the school for 6 weeks.
We commuted from Evanston daily leaving at about 6:30 and returning at about 5:30. We had engineering and sciencr classes and lots of laboratories! We did some chemistry experiments with what they said was plutonium which was very poisonous and we were very careful. We also did nuclear beam experiments out of the big Argonne CP5 reactor. One day our instructor was late and when he came in he asked if anyone was standing in a particular location where the beam appeared to be pointed. One of our colleagues turned pale and left for his dorm. I never did know the outcome of that matter. A large number or researchers were gathered about the CPS with all kinds of scientific equipment utilizing neutron and other high energy beams.

Everyone was foolishy optiistic about nuclear power--electricity from nuclear energy so cheap it would not be metered, nuclear power for ships, locomotives, airplanes and even automobiles. Argonne had developed a small reactor, the Argonaut, which they thought would be a fine reactor for university laboratories. At the end of our course, I was standing next to a model of the argonaut and a couple of greasy looking folks were standing near me, looking at the model and asking me all sorts of elementary questions about it. Heavens they mentioned that they were planning to build them for sale to universities! Several Universities got Argonauts and even more had swimming pool reactors. All eventually proved to be very expensive to maintain and even worse to get rid of. I am sure that Dean Lockridge was disappointed that we did not recommend buying a reactor for the University but we did not and we were right.

At that time the current deplorable status of nuclear electrical power generation was not forseen. At President Eisenhower's insistence, many of the electrical utilities chose to design and develop their own nuclear electrical power systems. My friends at Commonwealth Edison chose such a path which led to great cost overruns and systems that were not as dependable as they needed. I had some of their young engineers in night casses st NU and I was not impressed with their technical abilities and it showed up in the nuclear plant designs. Much better they had settled on a standard design for all US utilities as the French did with great successs.

From about 1950 on, Phyllis and I tried to have a child. I was under a lot of pressure teaching, work on dissertation and other fuculty duties. We got some medical attention for the problem but noting unusual was found. In Evanston there was a famous adoption agency, The Cradle catered to famous people. We put our name in there in 1953. In spring of 1954, we discovered that Phyllis was pregnant

On the evening of September 1, 1954, I went with Professor Obert to an ASME meeting downtown Chicago. I so not remember much about the meeting but know that I got home to 2806 Harrison Street about 11 pm and went to bed. About 2 pm Phyllis woke me and said that we hsd better go to Evanston Hospital. We did and Ronald Lyle Young was born about 4:00 am. I called the Ralstons and my folks. Mom said that she would come up and help when Phyllis and Ronnie came home and she did.

Phyllis's mother had a broken arm and to her disgust could not come. Ronald was a live wire and loved to be rocked to sleep or to what we thought was sleep. Just after he was put down in his crib, he would frequently awaken and require more rocking. He was very alert and walked and talked sooner than expected.He had a toy screwdriver and much to our distress he loved to take the wall plates off of the electrical outlets. When Ronnie was about two months old the Cradle called to say that they had a baby suitable for our adoption.

We.thanked them and declined. Ronnie had a very good friend Robert Curry, son of Ed Curry Principal of 1/4 of Evanston High School. Robert was just a bit older than Ronnie and they played furiously. Ed and I took them to places to see things like the fighter planes taking off and landing at neaIby Glenview Naval Air Station. When we moved to Tullahoma, we could tell that Ronnie missed Robert. They did visit us in the spring of 1958 on their way to a vacation in Biloxi.


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