Jersey City was home to the headquarters of the M. W. Kellogg Company, which specialized in chemical engineering projects. In 1942, the S-1 Committee tasked Kellogg with conducting research into the feasibility of the gaseous diffusion process for separating uranium isotopes. As the Manhattan Project began, Kellogg's vice president of engineering, Percival "Dobie" Keith, took charge of a newly created subsidiary of Kellogg, the Kellex Corporation.
Stephane Groueff: Mr. Hobbs, part three.
J.C. Hobbs: The discussion in connection with piping and all of these fancy bends. Badger Company in Boston, I think, had the contract for the copper expansion joints.
Groueff: Between pipes?
Stephane Groueff: Mr. Hobbs, part two. So to go now to how you were contacted for the Manhattan Project.
J.C. Hobbs: You see, [Ludwig] Skog was one in the group and had me in on –
Groueff: And [William Francis] Gibbs.
Groueff: General Nichols, Part 2.
Nichols: But Dobie [Percival Keith] came back immediately, or shortly thereafter, with the suggestion we build more gaseous diffusion base plants, and that was why we built the K-27 plant.
Groueff: A base?
Alfred Nier: By the summer of 1943, the question came up, what I should do next? And I had a chance to – [J. Robert] Oppenheimer had gotten a hold of me and suggested I might come out to Los Alamos.
Stephane Groueff: And you knew him?
Arthur Squires: Keith is a personality.
Stephane Groueff: He is kind of a personality.
Squires: Keith is a personality and I worked with this man seventeen years, shy two weeks.
Groueff: So you know him very well.
Squires: I know him very well.
Groueff: Would you describe him, during the war especially, because he’ll be one of my main heroes and I want to present him as colorful as possible.
Arthur Squires: And I probably did not appreciate, during the war itself, the extent to which this was such a remarkable effort. Kellex – I am sure some of this you have already heard. Kellex was put together by M.W. Kellogg Company pretty much on a command basis. They just went to the top people all over the industry and got the top instrument man, the top man in the power field, and top people in compressors and all the various phases of the project.
Sir Hugh Taylor: I had been requested by the British Government to find out certain things. They wanted, for example, to know whether they could use this thing and the General Electric Company made it available to them on the condition that their affiliate in England was entrusted with the responsibility of supplying it. It was the British Thomson-Houston Company [in] Rugby.
Then another job that I did for them, I got the Shell Oil Company in California to give me—
Stephane Groueff: Shell Oil.
Keller: My father was a very poor boy. And, in fact, their family had been broken up when he was eleven years of age. And he was indentured to a Mennonite preacher farmer in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania who raised him. And when he was twenty, he went into business as a horse dealer in the town.
Groueff: Your father was a poor man?
Groueff: And not educated?
Stephane Groueff: We could start now with your biography and where you were born. I see that you were born in Cleveland.
General Kenneth Nichols: Well, I was born in a little suburb of Cleveland called West Park, Ohio [on November 13, 1907].
Groueff: West Park, Ohio.
Nichols: Later became a part of Cleveland.