Treasure trove of documents about the ML-1, the US Army’s trailer-mounted, nitrogen-cooled, atomic fission-heated generator

I recently published an article featuring a video from the Army Nuclear Power Program that focused on the Army’s mobile, low power closed cycle nitrogen cooled nuclear reactor designated the ML-1.

The article generated a good discussion that indicated a strong desire for more information about the program. My initial searches didn’t turn up a great deal of information, but this morning I happened across a treasure trove of documents that answer almost any question one might think of asking about the program. The key was finding a reference to a unique program acronym.

The seven documents are a sampling of Army Gas Cooled Reactor Systems Program (AGCRSP) quarterly progress reports with dates ranging from January 1960 – January 1966. They are available as excellent quality scanned PDFs from the University of North Texas digital library. Each document includes a good bibliography that might provide useful search terms to locate even more detailed information.

One of the more useful parts of the treasure trove was an appendix in the final report in the series titled ML-1 Plant Characteristics. It provides ten pages worth of tabulated information about pressures, temperatures, burn-up, dose rates, weights, dimensions, consumables, auxiliary power requirements, neutron flux and many other details for the technically minded.

The UNT digital library also includes a copy of the ML-1 Design Report, a must read document for all who are intensely interested in this subject.

One of the more intriguing aspects about the document library was seeing the General Tire logo on each of the cover pages. Who knew?

Who knew General Tire built an atomic engine?

Who knew General Tire once built an atomic generator?

Now I’m on the hunt for a preliminary feasibility study for the ML-2 that was mentioned in the progress reports.

I’m also starting the search for the record of decision that resulted in AGCRSP defunding and cancellation at the end of October 1965. The case is very cold, since the final act happened almost exactly 50 years ago, but it will be interesting to see if it’s possible to determine who killed the promising program.

Why did Richard Nixon so strongly endorse nuclear energy in April 1973?


On April 18, 1973, President Richard Nixon gave a special message to the congress of the United States on energy policy. Unlike more recent offerings by presidents regarding energy, that document placed a huge emphasis on making regulatory and legislative changes that would enable the rapid expansion of nuclear power; the ‘N’ word appears in […]

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How would a Rockefeller crony react to Eddington’s vision of subatomic energy?

Recently an Atomic Insights reader shared a document that inspired a new line of thinking about the chronology of atomic energy development. The inspirational document was a PDF copy of a chapter titled Little Red Schoolhouse from Freeman Dyson‘s memoir, Disturbing the Universe. It was a brief tale about a memorable burst of creativity in […]

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Licensing demonstration reactors in the United States

During the joint DOE-NRC workshop on advanced non-light water reactors held last week (Sep 1-2, 2015), John Adams of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation gave a presentation on reactor license classification terminology. It made me squirm in my chair with the desire to interrupt. Probably because he has read and […]

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Sad-ending story of EBR-II told by three of its pioneers

During the period between 1961 and 1994, an extraordinary machine called the Experimental Breeder Reactor 2 (EBR-II) was created and operated in the high desert of Idaho by a team of dedicated, determined, and distinguished people. In 1986, that machine demonstrated that it could protect itself in the event of a complete loss of flow […]

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Jerry Cuttler and Mohan Doss add their voices to Calabrese’s challenge to Science Magazine. Rejected – so far.

Yesterday, Atomic Insights published a copy of a letter that Dr. Edward Calabrese sent to Marcia K. McNutt, the Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine. I have obtained permission to publish copies of two related letters addressed to Ms. McNutt, one from Dr. Jerry Cuttler and one from Dr. Mohan Doss. In addition, I have obtained a […]

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Edward Calabrese challenges Science Magazine to right a 59 year-old case of scientific misconduct

Dr. Edward Calabrese shared the below letter to the editor in chief of Science Magazine with several of his professional colleagues. One of them shared it with me. I immediately contacted Dr. Calabrese and obtained his permission to share it with Atomic Insights readers. Dr. Calabrese did not initiate this coverage of his ongoing investigation […]

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Nova’s “Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail”

On July 29, 2015, a week before the August 6 commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, PBS (Public Broadcast System in the US) aired a documentary titled Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail. Unlike many efforts on similar topics, this one is worth watching. More importantly, it is worth recommending […]

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FOE continues promoting fossil fuel by trying to force Diablo Canyon closure

As a literature major during my undergraduate years, I was fascinated by the variety of stories that can be told about the same topic depending on the author’s selected point of view. Here is a brief example. Friends of the Earth (FOE) has a page on its web site titled Shutting down Diablo Canyon. The […]

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Romance of Radium – How did our relationship with radioactive material sour?

Radium glow finale

Note – This post was initially published on February 23, 2013. After attending the ANS President’s Special Session about the way we should communicate about radiation, I thought it would be worth repeating. Sometimes, we need to look outside of our immediate time and place to find “best practices” that we should emulate. Hitting road […]

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Lewis Strauss was no fan of useful atomic energy

Every once in a while, I feel the need to share some of the historical research I’m conducting. This serves multiple purposes; it provides me with an easily searchable log of interesting tidbits and it enables me to continue working on my mission of sharing as much information as I can find about atomic energy […]

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