Treasures from the Archives

Taken from ORNL, “The News” Jul-Sep 1959


•      ORNL health physicists began testing within the city of Oak Ridge to obtain data on the shielding protection afforded by houses against radiation from fallout.  More than 30 residents volunteered their houses.  The tests were carried out so as to represent no hazard to the families and the general public.  The tests took into account different housing types and the effects of such factors as uneven terrain, basements, home furnishing and the proximity of other structures.  The tests were intended to provide data that may be of interest for the national civil defense effort.


•      The AEC assigned ORNL the technical responsibility for a long range program to develop thermal breeder reactors based on the Thorium-U233 fuel cycle.   An earlier study showed that the system most likely to achieve success as a Thorium Breeder is the aqueous homogeneous.  Also the molten salt system showed promise, if the salts used are in direct contact with graphite.  During the next several months the Laboratory will pursue work on fluid-fuel and heterogeneous gas-cooled systems as thermal breeders and attempt to arrive at a firm reassessment of the relative merits of each. The lab would then recommend to the AEC the system or systems that should be exploited fully as thermal breeders.


•      ORNL has been assigned responsibility to provide technical assistance to AEC's Small Size Nuclear Power Plant Program.  The major objective of the project is the development of a reactor that will make a significant contribution to the achievement of economical electric power in a small plant.  The plant will be designed to produce 16,500 kw of electric power. With the installation of an optional conventional superheater its capacity could be increased to 22,000 kw.