REFRESH — Let There Be Light

lightbulbMore than 60 years ago this month – though not related to the holiday season as far as we know — a string of bulbs lit up courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory. What was the significance? The electricity used to power the bulbs was generated by an experimental breeder reactor and was the first electricity produced using the heat of nuclear fission.

Photo from the Department of Energy

refresh leafREFRESH is an occasional series where we rerun previous posts. This first ran in December 2014. 

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

10 thoughts on “REFRESH — Let There Be Light”

  1. Interesting article. Glad to read this article. This blog is useful for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nuclear power has played a very important role in making our industrial operations more convenient. But with the rapid development of technology people have applied it to such warfare activities it becomes dangerous. Today we can use a variety of different energy sources and I think it has partially replaced nuclear energy. I hope that with modern technology we will be able to completely replace nuclear energy

  3. In fact that was not only the first for Argonne’s breaded reactor (not fast a simple fission reactor) but more in later years : “EBR-I light bulbs
    This simple string of four 100-watt light bulbs is powered by the first useful electricity ever produced by nuclear power, generated on Dec. 20, 1951, by Argonne’s Experimental Breeder Reactor 1. The next day, 100 watts were generated. About the power plant: The Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) achieved many benchmarks during its 14 years of operation. In 1953, it was the first reactor to demonstrate the breeder principle — generating, or “breeding,” more nuclear fuel than it consumed. It was the first, in November 1962, to achieve a chain reaction with plutonium; and the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid metals at high temperatures as a reactor coolant. EBR-I gained National Historic Landmark status in 1966. More about the EBR-I reactor » Photo courtesy Argonne National Laboratory”

  4. And we need even more fission in our future.
    Nuclear Power is Sustainable & That’s What Counts!
    Nuclear power meets all the criteria for a renewable energy source but one currently. Most reactors in operation use more fuel than they produce. However fast neutron reactors (FNRs) produce more fuel than they consume. In fact a FNR not only gets much better mileage, getting 60 times the amount of energy from uranium, it also produces even more abundant thorium as a fuel. In a FNR, thorium produces U-233 which is fissile just like the U-235 we get from the ground.
    Even with our current power reactors uranium is abundant and uranium is even available from sea water at costs which would have little impact on electricity prices.
    Of course if FNR technology is used, or thorium becomes a nuclear fuel, the supply is almost limitless.
    Therefore regardless of the various definitions of ‘renewable’, nuclear power meets every reasonable criteria for sustainability, which is the prime concern.
    It is very appropriate, in my opinion, to include non-polluting nuclear power as an important part of our energy future. It deserves to be on an equal footing with any renewable energy source.

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