Civilian nuclear power on the drawing board: the development of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II.

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On September 28, 2001 a symposium was held at Argonne National Laboratory as part of the festivities to mark the 100th birthday of Enrico Fermi. The symposium celebrated Fermi's ''contribution to the development of nuclear power'' and focused on one particular ''line of development'' resulting from Fermi's interest in power reactors: Argonne's fast reactor program. Symposium participants made many references to the ways in which the program was linked to Fermi, who led the team which created the world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. For example, one presentation featured an April, 1944 memo that described a meeting attended by Fermi ... continued below

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79 pages

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Westfall, C. February 20, 2003.

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Description

On September 28, 2001 a symposium was held at Argonne National Laboratory as part of the festivities to mark the 100th birthday of Enrico Fermi. The symposium celebrated Fermi's ''contribution to the development of nuclear power'' and focused on one particular ''line of development'' resulting from Fermi's interest in power reactors: Argonne's fast reactor program. Symposium participants made many references to the ways in which the program was linked to Fermi, who led the team which created the world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. For example, one presentation featured an April, 1944 memo that described a meeting attended by Fermi and others. The memo came from the time when research on plutonium and the nuclear chain reaction at Chicago's WWII Metallurgical Laboratory was nearing its end. Even as other parts of the Manhattan Engineering Project were building on this effort to create the bombs that would end the war, Fermi and his colleagues were taking the first steps to plan the use of nuclear energy in the postwar era. After noting that Fermi ''viewed the use of [nuclear] power for the heating of cities with sympathy,'' the group outlined several power reactor designs. In the course of discussion, Fermi and his colleagues took the first steps in conjuring the vision that would later be brought to life with Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) and Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II), the celebrated achievements of the Argonne fast reactor program. Group members considered various schemes for a breeder reactor in which the relatively abundant U-238 would be placed near a core of fissionable material. The reactor would be a fast reactor; that is, neutrons would not be moderated, as were most wartime reactors. Thus, the large number of neutrons emitted in fast neutron fission would hit the U-238 and create ''extra'' fissionable material, that is, more than ''invested,'' and at the same time produce power. The group identified the problem of removing heat in such a reactor and presaged the eventual solution by suggesting the use of sodium coolant, which has minimal interaction with neutrons.

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79 pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 20 Feb 2003

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  • Report No.: ANL/HIST-1-03/6
  • Grant Number: W-31-109-ENG-38
  • DOI: 10.2172/827226 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 827226
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc780087

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  • February 20, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • March 11, 2016, 4:30 p.m.

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Westfall, C. Civilian nuclear power on the drawing board: the development of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II., report, February 20, 2003; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc780087/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.