Treasures from the Archives

Taken from ORNL, “The News” Oct-Dec 1960


•      A Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) is to be constructed to investigate

advanced reactor concepts for production of electrical civilian power.  It offers excellent steam conditions and higher efficiency through operation at

very high temperatures and specific power.   The molten salt fuel is a solution of lithium-7, beryllium, uranium, zirconium and thorium and will be pumped through several hundred channels in graphite columns.   Since this fuel is in solution, fabrication of fuel elements is not necessary and continuous removal of fission poisons is possible.  Operation of MSRE is scheduled for 1963.


•      Construction of a small research reactor, designated Fast Burst Reactor (FBR), is to provide short bursts of radiation for biomedical and health physics research.  It will consist of a core of uranium molybdenum alloy without shielding or moderator.  The reactor design provides for a pulse of 40 micro-seconds consisting of fast neutrons as free as possible of thermal neutrons.  At ORNL, the FBR will be concerned principally with radiation dosimetry in connection with instrument development and dose determinations. Completion of the reactor is scheduled for 1962.


•      Dr. Weinberg addressed the State of the Laboratory and its mission for development of a truly long-term solution to mankind's energy problem, either by development of economical breeder reactors or a solution of the problem of controlled thermonuclear fusion.  He also suggested consideration of endeavors outside the atomic energy field which are of national interest.  Worthy problems as desalination of sea water, weather science, oceanography, space technology, chemical contamination of the biosphere and large scale biology.  He also spoke to the many developments in nuclear instrumentation, to include extremely accurate nuclear detectors, a pocket radiation meter and a scintillation spectrometer to allow the taking of detailed pictures of cancerous tissues of the brain and other organs.


•      A high-level radiation segmenting facility will soon be in operation for dejacketing fuel from the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE).  Operators perform the operation remotely, viewing the work through cell windows as they use manipulators, cranes, television cameras and other equipment.  When the facility is complete, SRE fuel clusters will be processed mechanically.  Each cluster includes fuel rods which hold uranium slugs of approximately three percent enriched uranium.