Accident Consequences: Design Added to Magnitude

The reactor was more reactive than planned due to problems with the aluminum-boron alloy burnable poison strips. Apparently, these strips had begun to rapidly deteriorate, causing some of the poison material to be lost from the core area.The SL-1 accident was initiated by the rapid withdrawal of the central control rod. Starting from a fully […]

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SL-1: Designed for Remote Power and Heat

SL-1’s mission was to provide power to radar stations along the northern perimeter of North America; a series of such stations was known as the DEW (Defense Early Warning) Line. The Army’s designation , SL-1, tells us that the plant was a stationary, low power reactor, and that it was the first of its kind. […]

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Letter from the Editor: Solving the SL-1 Mystery

Some of the sources that we interviewed suggested that there may have been unstated reasons for not releasing the report. While the term “cover-up” was not used, the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie” was used more than once. One common link in the training of most nukes is the viewing of a grainy, black and […]

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What Caused the Accident?: Plenty of Blame to Share

The root cause of the accident is well understood. Investigators found the central control rod lying across the top of the reactor vessel. All the other rods were clamped in their fully inserted positions. (Note from the editor: The following story is conjecture supported by interviews of first hand sources and a careful review of […]

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January 1961: SL-1 Explosion Aftermath

At 9:01 pm on January 3, 1961, the first indication of trouble at SL-1 was received at Atomic Energy Commission Fire Stations. The alarm, which was triggered by one of several measured parameters at the plant, was immediately broadcast over all National Reactor Testing Station radio networks. By 9:10 pm, fire trucks and security personnel […]

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In the News June 1996

Power Cutoffs Ordered in Northeast (May 22, 1996) – Unusually hot weather forced several electric utilities in the Northeast United States to cut power to customers who had agreed to power interruptions in return for lower rates and to reduce voltage by 5 to 8 percent in order to protect reserve margins. Affected utilities included […]

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PHWR Historical Problem Areas: Sources of Incidents

The pressure tubes of a CANDU® are in a hostile environment that includes a high neutron flux, hot, high temperature water, and a certain amount of hydrogen and oxygen released by the decomposition of water by radiation.Though the CANDU® has proven itself to be a reliable, cost effective and safe power generation system, there are […]

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Isotope Production: Dual Use Power Plants

Canada now produces approximately 85 percent of the world’s supply of Co-60 and more than 50 percent of the Co-60 medical therapy devices and medical device sterilizers.Nuclear reactors are not just a source of heat for power production. They are also an abundant source of neutrons, which allows the plants to be in a process […]

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Pressurized Heavy Water: Using Available Resources

For a time, it appeared that the goal of an independent nuclear industry might not be possible and construction was begun on a reactor plant that used an imported pressure vessel.In many ways a CANDU® nuclear plant is conceptually related to a standard pressurized water reactor plant system. It has two separate heat transfer loops […]

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Letter from the Editor: Reactors With a Can-Do Attitude

Canada decided that it would be prudent to develop a reactor design that could operate on natural uranium. This decision was consciously aimed at making the Canadian nuclear industry independent of American political decision making.One of the highest compliments that you can pay to a submariner is to describe him as someone with a “can-do” […]

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Some Reactors CANDU®: What Others Cannot

CANDU® reactors are designed to operate with fuel that is composed of natural uranium dioxide formed into cylindrical pellets and inserted into zirconium alloy tubes. No enrichment is necessary. An understanding of some of the features of the CANDU® reactor design makes it obvious that many of the negative perceptions about nuclear power are, in […]

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Keep it Simple: Complex Systems Cost More

It must also be understood that the 60 percent efficient gas turbine combined cycle is a very sophisticated piece of machinery operating with its material at close to maximum limits.A first generation Adams Engine might achieve a thermal efficiency of approximately 30-35 percent, instead of the 55-60 percent that is currently being advertised for advanced […]

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