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World's Energy Resources Subject of Wofford Course

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

SPARTANBURG, SC—Dr. Gene Rutledge, an energy scientist who as a Wofford College student during World War II attended Spartanburg Methodist College and Converse College, will teach a four-day course, “World’s Energy Resources,” at Wofford beginning March 31.

The course will be on the Wofford College campus for all Spartanburg college students. It will be held on four consecutive evenings – March 31 through April 3 – from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 110 of the Roger Milliken Science Center.

Two ballads that Rutledge authored that have been set to music will be played during the class.

Rutledge, a Spartanburg native and 1946 Wofford graduate, is a leading authority on the subject of energy resources, particularly nuclear energy resources, petroleum reserves and alternative energy resources. He also is a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Rutledge played a significant role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear development work in the 1940s, including the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb and the processes to produce enriched uranium and other nuclear fuels.

He eventually became the director of energy resources in the state of Idaho, and later worked in energy resources management in Alaska, where he still resides.

Rutledge has written several books, including “Hiroshima Bomb to ‘Grand Peace,’” “Prudhoe Bay – Discovery” and “Prudhoe Bay – Discovery to Recovery.”

In 1949, Rutledge made one of the most important scientific discoveries ever made by a contract employee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission – chlorine trifluoride, a “laxative” that unplugged the barrier to the uranium gaseous diffusion plant at K-25. The discovery was classified “top secret” for 42 years, and a few months ago, he was recognized at an international Fluorine Conference in Tampa, Fla., where he played the song he wrote, “The Potassium, the Atom, and the Laxative.” He has been told that without the discovery, the billion-dollar fuel enrichment plants at Paducah, Ky., and Portsmouth, Ohio, would never have been approved. Without these plants, it is not known how long it would have taken to obtain the enriched fuels needed for U.S. nuclear submarines and nuclear power plants would have taken.

Rutledge worked at the Naval Nuclear Research plant in Pittsburgh on the design of the Skipjack submarine and later managed the Nautilus nuclear prototype testing facility in Idaho. He became executive director for the Idaho Nuclear Energy Commission, and while serving as Idaho’s member of the Western Interstate Nuclear Compact, he worked with Alaska Lt. Gov. “Red” Boucher at a conference in Oregon to help get the Trans-Alaska Pipeline approved by the U.S. Senate. They were successful, and Rutledge moved to Alaska at the request of state government officials; there, he wrote six newspaper articles on coal, oil, gas, solar, wind and geothermal energy that took the first-place award from the Alaska Press Club in 1975. His book “Prudhoe Bay … Discovery to Recovery” details the movements of billions of barrels of oil from the Artic Ocean Coastal Plain to Valdez in an 800-mile pipeline.

In addition to students who get credit for the energy course, friends of Rutledge who attended college with him from 1942 through 1946 are invited to attend the class.

For information, contact Dr. Don Castillo (Wofford College) at 597-4634 or Dr. Edward McCurry (SMC) at 587-4287.