b'C H A P T E R 6N E U T R O N S : F AS T F LU X , H I G H F LU X ,A N D R I C KO V E RS F LU Xhaving the MTRs chemical processing use two propellers. John Simpson, Allegheny County Airport in a suburbplant on the Argonne premises. The assistant manager for technical opera- of Pittsburgh for what became knownplant would separate unfissioned U-235 tions at Westinghouse, described the as the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.from spent fuel elements and send it off problem: GE built Knolls Atomic Powerto be recycled into new fuel elements. Laboratory in New York. 20It would be a heavy industrial complex, The concept of a nuclear pro p u l s i o nand it would generate a great deal of plant was disarmingly simple. Just put As expected, the Westinghouse programwaste, radioactive and otherwise. 1 5 enough uranium, enriched to the pro p e r produced results first. In a daring depar-amount of the uranium-235 isotope, intoThe Fluor Corporation, hired to build fuel elements; the fissioning of the ura -the MTR, broke ground about five nium will produce heat. Then flow amiles north of Central in May 1950. coolant over these hot fuel elements toThe site for the Chem Plant was about generate steam that will then drive aone and a half miles away on the oppo- turbine. The turbine turns the pro p e l l e rsite side of the access highway. The shaft.Sounds easy, doesnt it? Thoe u tr-two complexes were situated so that ble was, none of this theory was wellneither the MTR nor the Chem Plant enough advanced to know precisely howwere downwind of each other in the much or how many, or how big or howprevailing daytime wind, which came small. Most of the hard w a re we neededfrom the southwest. If an accident were d i d n t exist. Some of the materials weto occur at either place, any release of needed didnt exist either. They had to bem p roved or developed from scratch.airborne fission products would be less i likely to harm workers elsewhere. 16 They had to be tested.18 Progress on all Site construction Many of the hardware components wereincluding excavation work by the F. H. tested in the MTR. One problem was Naval Historical Center 80-G-K-18497McGraw Company for the NRTSs the choice of coolant. Each of the major Rear Admiral Hyman Rickoverthird reactorwas interrupted by an possibilitieswater, helium gas, or liq-unusually cold winter in 1950-51, a uid metalhad the familiar cascade ofgreat disappointment because this was implications and drawbacks. Waterthe Navys submarine reactor and the would have to be kept under pressure to Getting Heat fro mKorean War had begun. Bechtel had to keep it from boiling in the core of thepostpone its work on the Chem Plant, reactor. Helium was hard to procure and N e u t ro n sand both projects waited until spring. 17 hard to contain. Liquid metal conductedheat well, but it would take longer toThe Navys reactor complex was five develop into a safe system. 19 T he work of the Submarinemiles north of the MTR. Guided and Thermal Reactor was to makedominated by the energy and vision of Rickover, who felt that corporate com- heat. It takes thirty trillion fis-Captain Hyman Rickover (Rear petition served the Navy well, assigned sions (3 x 10 1 3 ) to release 1 Btu ofAdmiral after July 1953), the Navy had General Electric (GE) to develop a liq- heat. The fissioning of one poundasked the Westinghouse Company to uid metal concept; Westinghouse, pres- of U-235 can produce the Btuapply nuclear fission to the steady, surized water. Each company built an equivalent of burning 1,400 tons ofwell-regulated release of energy to run AEC-owned and -financed nuclear coal or 260,000 gallons of oil.an enginesafely. The engine was to development laboratory. Westinghouserun a submarine at a certain speed and purchased the original site of the5 1'