A Busy Month
Today, I continue my series of nuclear milestones of the month. If May and June were slightly light on historical events, July more than makes up for it. July is noteworthy in the US as the first reactor to supply power to the commercial grid. It is also noteworthy for the number of nuclear milestones that took place outside the US, including in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, and the Panama Canal (although this was a U.S. project). Two of the firsts are for major multinational institutions.
Key July milestones include:
July 1, 1959: First reactor test in a program to develop rocket propulsion (Kiwi-A, Los Alamos, New Mexico)
July 5, 1961: First military surface ship to operate using nuclear power (USS Long Beach, U.S.)
July 8, 1955: First research reactor licensed to operate, and first reactor to operate under a license (Pennsylvania State University Nuclear Reactor Facility, State College, Pennsylvania)
July 9, 1967: First gas-cooled heavy water reactor to supply electricity (EL-4/Brennilis, Finistere, France)
July 12, 1960: First non-governmental multinational organization for nuclear power (Foratom, Brussels, Belgium)
July 12, 1957: First sustained electricity supplied off-site (SRE, Santa Susana, California) [Power excursion July 13, 1959 led to shutdown.]
July 16, 1973: First commercial-scale desalination using nuclear power (Aktau BN-350, Aktau, USSR/now Kazakhstan)
July 17, 1955: First electricity to the commercial grid in the U.S. (BORAX-III, Arco, Idaho)
July 22, 1947: First "large" reactor outside the U.S. (NRX, Chalk River, Canada)
July 25, 1966: First nuclear power reactor to operate in Asia (Tokai-1, Tokai Mura, Japan)
July 29, 1957: First international governmental organization for nuclear technology (IAEA, Vienna, Austria)
July 29, 1978: First thermal power reactor to operate with full MOX core (Fugen, Tsuruga, Japan)
July 30, 1951: First research reactor built by countries that had not engaged in weapons development (JEEP-I, Kjeller, Norway)
In addition, we have several firsts this month for which I was unable to find an exact date: First boiling water reactor (BORAX-I, Arco, Idaho); first demonstration of a high-temperature gas reactor (Dragon Reactor Experiment, Winfrith, United Kingdom); and first floating nuclear power plant (MH-1A, Panama Canal).
As always, more information on all of these milestones, and more, is available in my book, Nuclear Firsts: Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development.