Release that Witch Chapter 1003
"Why do you look so serious?" Nightingale broke into a smile. "I'll believe anything you say, but you ought to give me some time to absorb the information. Nobody would believe this tiny little thing can decimate thousands of demons, especially when they saw the actual substance extracted by Lucia."
"Do I?" Roland stroked his cheeks. Perhaps he became nervous when he realized that this was a race against time that would determine the very survival of humanity. "You're right though. I can hardly believe in something until I've seen it myself."
Roland turned around and held the tiny "stone fragment" in his hand.
This would be the starting point of harnessing the power of the atom — purified uranium.
It was hard to convince people that the little stone could produce "something as glorious as the sun". The silver-white surface of the uranium sample had lost its shine due to oxidation. It felt cold to the touch and seemed to have nothing to do with heat or the sun. But Roland knew it would produce amazing results under the right conditions.
To collect uranium, Lucia and Spear had spent nearly a week at the North Slope Mine extracting uranium from the crushed granite. Because of this, the Countess had complained quite a bit. She thought it was inappropriate to subject a lady to such heavy labor. As a compensation, she took five apprentices from Neverwinter's city hall for her own region's city hall.
And in the end, they had only got this tiny piece.
Compared to the original samples, this thumb-sized metal piece had a purity of over 90% and consisted of two layers. One layer was Uranium-235 and the other Uranium-238, in a ratio of 1 to 99. This was also the ratio commonly existing in nature.
In other words, the uranium on the surface of the stone, as thin as it was, could be used to produce a "weapon".
As a stable element, both uranium-238 and uranium-235 had a half-life of 10 billion years. Uranium-238 was the predominant isotope but had little practical use, whereas uranium-235 could be used for creating nuclear weapons. Because of their extreme low radioactivity, the alpha particles emitted by uranium radionuclides during their decay could only travel a few dozen microns, not even far enough to penetrate the epidermis of a person's skin. Therefore, the stone would not cause radiation poisoning even if one held it in his hand.
But this did not mean that uranium with a high concentration was absolutely safe.
The alpha particles produced during the decay were highly toxic. Once they entered the body through contaminated food, it could be disastrous.
Due to this, Roland had asked Soraya to coat the "stone fragment" with a transparent film, not only to prevent it from further oxidating, but also to protect people from the radiation.
Roland had mixed feelings about the stone in his hand. Uranium, which contained so much potential power, lay innocently in his hand, looking almost different than iron. No wonder Pasha and the other witches didn't believe him.
Now that he had made it this far, the next thing he needed to do was to collect the raw materials for the "Resplendent Radiation" Project.
Azima's discovery of low purity uranium through a high purity sample told Roland that he could use the current sample to find more uranium mines. Although Roland could ask Lucia to extract uranium at a mining site and thus obtain sufficient uranium-235, such an arrangement would sabotage his initial plan of conducting multiple projects simultaneously.
Because Lucia also played an irreplaceable role in the smelting industry.
Besides, it was impossible to produce an atom bomb with only uranium. To create atomic weapons, Roland had to utilize a very rare element which was usually found with uranium, but in far smaller amounts. Therefore, even though Lucia could help him extract uranium, he still needed a large amount of the raw ore before he could build a bomb.
For that, Azima was the key.
Roland put the tiny piece of uranium back in a box and locked it in a drawer. Then he pulled out the unfinished sketch of an internal combustion engine from the stack of documents on his desk and spread it out.
Unlike most of the residents in Neverwinter who usually went to bed early on a snowy winter night, Roland still had a lot of work to do.
"Staying up late again?" Nightingale asked as she tilted her head.
Roland stretched and then picked up a quill. "We are marching down the path to victory. If you want your name to be passed down throughout history, you have to make at least some small sacrifices, right?"
"Really? But you seem a little reluctant."
"Ahem... don't you believe what I'm saying?"
"Yes, but you also asked me to detect lies with my ability." Nightingale shot back, with her tongue out.
"Oh well... then I'll say that I'm very willing to get this thing done. Are you happy now?" Roland replied resignedly. "I don't want to lose to the demons or the so-called Divine Will."
"Good, now you are telling the truth. I'll prepare you a cup of hot tea and some snacks." Nightingale smiled. "I'll ask the kitchen staff to prepare spicy barbeque, juicy mushrooms, deep fried shrimps seasoned with salt and pepper, and Chaos Drinks. How does that sound?"
"Hey, you're just ordering what you want, aren't you?" thought Roland.
Roland shook his head, totally speechless. "Order whatever you like."
"As you wish, Your Majesty," Nightingale said slyly.
The next day, Azima took the high purity uranium fragment with her and set off. Meanwhile, Roland received a piece of good news from City Hall.
The Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Industry had completed the construction of Fractionation Tower I.
To show how important the project was, Roland personally attended the unveiling ceremony.
The tower was located by the Redwater River in Neverwinter's industrial zone. Standing almost 25 meters high, the tower incorporated many new concepts and technology. Divided into several sections, the tower separated oils and liquids with different boiling points. After Anna took care of the welding work, the chemists were now able to more precisely control the fractionation process.
While a simple boiler would be sufficient to separate oils, the quality of the final products obtained using such crude methods was far from satisfactory. This reminded Roland of a geology book he had read as a kid. The book had made him believe that his country was sitting on an enormous fortune in metal and mineral resources, but after growing up, he realized those many of those minerals were simply raw materials with a low purity rate.
Like people's physical appearances, minerals varied. The difference between low and high-quality minerals was huge. Low-quality minerals required a lot of work before they could be used. The same held true for oils. Untreated oils that had impurities like waxes, sulfur or mineral salts, were as thick as mud and were therefore unusable. They had to refine them in order for them to become useful. Some oils, such as those from the oil fields in Borneo, were purer than most and could be directly used as fuel.
The Blackwater River that spread across nearly half of the Southernmost Region belonged to the latter category.
After Roland learned that there were gushers in the desert, he started to pay particular attention to that area. It turned out that the oil collected from Endless Cape was of fairly high quality. While not comparable to the refined oil in his original world, after basic fractionation, the oil met Roland's current needs.
The real advancement was the continued improvement of Neverwinter's industrial infrastructure.