Treasures from the Archives

Taken from ORNL, “The News” Jan-Mar 1958


                     The Homogeneous Reactor Experiment Number 2 (HRE-2) went critical at 5:54 PM, Dec. 27th.  The HRE-2 consists of a reactor core and pressure vessel filled with a heavy water solution of uranyl sulfate surrounded by a heavy water blanket.  This fuel solution is pumped under high pressure and heated by uranium fission. The heat exchangers, produce steam to drive a turbo-generator producing electricity.  The HRE-2 will be located below ground level, on the same site as the HRE-1, which was dismantled in 1954.


                    The Oak Ridge Research Reactor (ORR) went critical on Mar 21st at 6.06 PM.  This $ 5 million ( $ 43 million in FY 2018) reactor was a modification of the Materials Testing Reactor.  This reactor was designed to operate at a power level of 20,000 to 30,000 kilowatts of heat with a high thermal neutron flux.  It had a beryllium-reflected core, utilizing enriched uranium-aluminum alloy clad with aluminum. It was used for fundamental research and engineering studies on the effect of nuclear radiation on reactor materials such as fuel elements and structural materials.  This then became the 6th nuclear reactor in operation at ORNL.  The others were the Bulk Shielding Facility, Low Intensity Test Reactor, Tower Shielding Facility, the HRE-2 and the Graphite Reactor.


                    Outside the United States, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority plans to build a fast breeder reactor suitable for producing electrical power.  This reactor would burn pure fissile fuel surrounded by a breeder blanket to convert material in the blanket into a new fuel at a rate exceeding the burning of the fissile material.  Thus the term “breeder.”


                    Walter Wiesman, assistant to Dr. Wernher Von Braun, from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, spoke at the Oak Ridge Junior Chamber of Commerce banquet.  In 1945 he and other guided missile specialists were spirited out of Germany by U.S. Commandos and brought to the United States.   In 1955 the entire group, including Dr. Wernher Von Braun, received U.S. citizenship in Huntsville, Alabama.