Sunday, May 31, 2015

Nuclear Anniversaries--May:

A Slightly Belated Report

I just realized that I failed to post the monthly report on nuclear milestones for May that I had planned to do at the beginning of this month.  I will blame it on a couple of back-to-back trips, but I realize that's a poor excuse.  It is still May, so I guess I will make it under the wire--but just barely.

The month of May saw its greatest activity at the very beginning of nuclear power development, with two events occurring in two different US laboratories in 1944.  In other years, May saw significant developments, both in the US and elsewhere, for research reactors, a non-electric application, and expansion beyond the weapons countries.  Specifically:

May 1, 1964:  First nuclear power plant planned and operated primarily for district heating (Agesta, Sweden)

May 3, 1958:  First "inherently safe," pulsed, high-flux reactor built for widespread research (TRIGA Mark-1, San Diego, California)

May 9, 1944:  First reactor to use enriched uranium (LOPO, or Y Reactor, Los Alamos, New Mexico)

May 12, 1963:  First large-scale reactor in a country not involved in weapons development (Latina, Borgo Sabotino, Italy)
May 15, 1944:  First heavy water reactor (CP-3, Argonne, Illinois)

Each of the 1944 achievements were key milestones in the development of what would become two major classes of reactors, still in use today:  the enriched uranium operation that would allow the development of the light water reactors that currently produce most of the world's nuclear electricity, and the use of heavy water, which led to another major class of reactors.

Likewise, the TRIGA reactor proved to be a powerful and versatile research tool, and is still in widespread use around the world today.

[These events, and others, are covered in greater detail in:  Nuclear Firsts:  Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development.]


No comments:

Post a Comment