Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nuclear Anniversaries--September:

Continuing the Story

I continue to play catch-up on the monthly breakout of events important to the history of nuclear power development.  (For those who are not regular readers of this blog, I had planned to publish monthly accounts, but I fell behind over the summer.)  In this blog, I will report on milestones in the history of nuclear power that occurred during the month of September.

September was a particularly important month, as the events that occurred during this month (in different years) included the very first demonstration of electricity production from a reactor, the start-up of the first reactor to operate outside the US, the first civilian research reactor, and more.

Key milestones in September were:

Sep. 3, 1948:  First very, very small-scale demonstration of electricity generation from a reactor (X-10 Graphite Reactor, Oak Ridge, TN)

Sep. 5, 1945:  First reactor to operate outside the US (ZEEP, Chalk River, Canada)

Sep. 5, 1953:  First civilian research reactor; first university reactor to operate; first privately owned and operated reactor (Raleigh Research Reactor, North Carolina State College, NC)

Sep. 16, 1957:  First research reactor in South America (IEA-R1, Brazil)

Sep. 17, 1957:  First organically moderated and cooled research reactor (OMRE, NRTS, ID)

Sep. 26, 1944:  First "full-scale" reactor; first plutonium generated at production levels (via electromagnetic isotope separation) (Hanford B, Hanford, WA)

In addition, on Sep. 16, 1944, the first liquid thermal diffusion enrichment (a technology that proved to be a dead end) took place at the S-50 in Oak Ridge, TN, and in Sep. 1965 (specific date unknown), the first confirmed food irradiation took place in Canada.  September was also the month that saw the first accident at a nuclear facility (although not at a reactor) to occur that resulted in significant environmental contamination (Mayak, in the former USSR, on Sep. 29, 1957).

These events and more are described in greater detail in my book, "Nuclear Firsts:  Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development."


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