Army Nuclear Power Plants

Designation Description of Reactors SM-1 This stationary military reactor was the Army’s prototype and training facility. It began operation in April 1957 at Fort Belvoir, VA, several months before the Shippingport reactor. SM-1 has the distinction of having been the first nuclear power plant to be hooked to an electrical grid. 2,000 kw. SM-1A Built […]

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ML-1 Mobile Power System: Reactor in a Box

At Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. we like the concept of the closed cycle gas turbine enough to be developing an updated design that builds on the lessons learned from past experiences.The ML-1 experimental reactor was unique. It was not a pressurized water reactor with a steam energy conversion system. Instead, ML-1 was the first nitrogen […]

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Letter from the Editor: Portable Nuclear Reactors

The United States Army ran an innovative nuclear power program for more than 20 years. The men involved operated a series of small, nuclear heated generating plants in some of the world’s least hospitable environments. The story of what those diligent heros did has been all but lost. Though the Army was the lead service […]

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Letter from the Editor: Breeding Better Reactors

Conventional wisdom holds that a breeder reactor produces more fuel than it uses. This idea is fascinating to some, but confusing to a whole group of rational people. It sounds too much like science fiction or Madison Avenue hype. Actually, a breeder reactor is not magic, but it is a marketing exaggeration to state that […]

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Plutonium Fuel Cycle: Under Attack

AEI would prefer to concentrate its efforts on discussing the incredible technical potential of nuclear energy while leaving the discussion of politics and personality to others. When trying to understand nuclear energy technical decisions, however, it is essential to understand some of the political issues involved. For the last 20 years, there has been an […]

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Liquid Metal Fast Breeder: Right Answer, Wrong Question

Soon after the development of the first nuclear reactors, scientists and engineers began to discuss the possibility of a nuclear fuel shortage. As far as these nuclear pioneers knew, there was a rather limited supply of uranium that was concentrated in certain areas of Africa and Eastern Europe. The situation was considered even more critical […]

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Light Water Breeder Reactor: Adapting A Proven System

At 12:30 am, on August 26, 1977, the operators at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station began lifting the central modules of the experimental breeder reactor core into the blanket section. At 04:38 am, the reactor reached criticality. During the next five years, the core produced more than 10 billion kilowatt-hours of thermal power – equivalent […]

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In the news: September 1995

Modern Hiroshima Described (August 7, 1995) (Knight-Ridder Newspapers) “This was supposed to have become a dead city, a toxic landscape so contaminated by radiation that nothing green would grow for generations. A nuclear desert – that’s what even some scientists saw in Hiroshima’s future. Instead, today’s Hiroshima is a thriving, flower-planted, ultramodern metropolis of 1-million […]

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Rocket Technology Applications: Machines With Limitless Capabilities

Under any circumstances, there is a very limited market for nuclear rockets. Even if space exploration is raised in the national priority list, the first mission to Mars would probably occur in about 2010. For at least a decade or more after that, trips would probably be infrequent at best. There would be some utility […]

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An Inside View: How Do Nuclear Rockets Work?

Before learning about nuclear rockets, we should take a quick detour to review how conventional rockets work. There is a perception that rockets are fiendishly complex devices that need to be serviced and designed by people whose intelligence is far removed from that of mere mortals. Often, people even use the term “rocket scientist” to […]

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Letter from the Editor: Confessions of a Stargazer

I have a confession. I am a science fiction and space travel fanatic. I watched with rapt attention during the “race to the moon” even though I was quite young. I dreamed of being an astronaut, and made several visits to the Kennedy Space Center. My personal library includes a large collection of books by […]

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U.S. Nuclear Rocket Programs

The Nuclear Engines for Rocket Vehicle Applications (NERVA) program officially began in 1961, when NASA issued a request for proposals and established the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO). Various government laboratories had been studying the concept for several years, several contractors were already working on conceptual design, and space was a big topic of interest. […]

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