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.

X-Energy introduced its company and first product to Virginia chapter of ANS

On Tuesday, October 27, three leaders from X-Energy spoke to the Virginia ANS chapter about their company and the Xe-100, the high temperature, pebble bed gas reactor power system that they are designing. During the presentation, meeting attendees learned that X-Energy is an early phase start-up with a total staff of a few dozen people, […]

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Using portable nuclear generators to break petroleum logistical dependence circa 1963

Note: The initial version of this post was written based on an incorrect interpretation of the Roman numeral date stamp at the end of the video. The film was made in 1963, not 1968. The post was revised after a commenter provided the correct production date. End note. I have a theory about why the […]

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Atomic Show #238 – StarCore Nuclear co-founders

StarCore Nuclear is a Canadian company whose co-founders, David Dabney and David Poole, are experienced engineers and businessmen. They have spent most of the past six years developing a technology and a business model aimed at providing reliable, emission-free electrical power and heat to remote locations. The basis of their technology is a high-temperature helium […]

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SMRs – lots of noise but DOE budget that’s 1% of annual wind tax credit

I’ve been spending some time watching, rewatching and clipping interesting excerpts from the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water subcommittee hearings on the FY2016 Department of Energy budget. It’s not everyone’s idea of entertainment, but it’s fascinating to me to watch publicly accessible discussions about how our government makes decisions, sets priorities and spends the money […]

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Elite international experts to debate SMRs’ role in nuclear co-generation and hybrid systems

Atomic Insights is a media partner for the 5th Annual Small Modular Reactor Summit, scheduled for April 14-15 in Charlotte, NC. Conference value increases when information about the event reaches people who are keenly interested in the topics that will be discussed. We will be running several pieces that will help Atomic Insights readers decide […]

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Tour of NuScale control room and test facility

Jose Rod Test Facility

Disclosure: I have a small contract to provide NuScale with advice and energy market information. That work represents less than 5% of my income for 2014. On October 20, 2014, I had the opportunity to visit NuScale’s facilities in Corvallis, OR. Though the company now has offices in three cities, Corvallis, the home of Oregon […]

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UAMPS stepping forward to serve customers

The established nuclear energy industry has taken a wait-and-see approach to the idea of developing and deploying smaller, simpler fission power stations that can take advantage of the economy of series production. The industry’s trade organization, the Nuclear Energy Institute, has expressed cautious optimism and has engaged in a moderate effort to identify regulatory obstacles […]

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Prospective customers lining up at NuScale

Each orange circle represents a potential NuScale power plant

A few days ago, Dan Yurman at Neutron Bytes published a blog post that is now titled Flash: NuScale executive says firm may build SMRs at Idaho lab. It was a follow-up to an earlier post in which Dan speculated about the Idaho National Lab’s potential as a good site for a new nuclear power […]

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The Canadians are coming

Hugh MacDiarmid, the Chairman of the Board for Terrestrial Energy, Inc., gave a talk to the Economic Club of Canada on September 24, 2014. That talk included a brief description of TEI’s integral molten salt reactor technology, but most of the talk was visionary in nature and aimed at exciting his Canadian audience about the […]

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Terrestrial Energy – Molten Salt Reactor Designed to Be Commercial Success

There is a growing roster of innovative organizations populated by people who recognize that nuclear technology is still in its infancy. Terrestrial Energy is one of the most promising of those organization because of its combination of problem solving technology, visionary leadership, and strong focus on meeting commercial needs. Nearly all of the commercial nuclear […]

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HTR-PM – Nuclear-heated gas producing superheated steam

The first HTR-PM (High Temperature Reactor – Pebble Module), one of the more intriguing nuclear plant designs, is currently under construction on the coast of the Shidao Bay near Weihai, China. This system uses evolutionary engineering design principles that give it a high probability of success, assuming that the developers and financial supporters maintain their […]

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