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UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
LOS ALAMOS FAST REACTOR
David B. Hall
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
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Date of Manuscript: Unknown
Date Declassified: June 7, 1947
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LOS ALAMOS FAST REACTOR
By David B. Hall and Jane Hall
The Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory of the United States Atomic Energy Commission under the
direction of Dr. Norris E. Biadbury, has announced the initial operation of a new type of neutron re-
actor which operates on the fission of plutonium by high energy neutrons. The fact that the fission
process proceeds by use of high energy neutrons has led to the name of "fast" reactor. Since the
other existing reactors in the United States use uranium as the active material and thermal or slow
neutrons for producing fission, the fast reactor is new in the field of atomic energy developments.
Since the neutron and gamma radiations from nuclear reactors are of such high intensity that it
is impossible to remain in the vicinity of an unshielded unit, the entire reactor is surrounded by a
concrete and steel shield of sufficient thickness to reduce adequately the intensity of these radiations.
Experiments can thus be carried out adjacent to the reactor without danger or inconvenience.
The reactor is now in the final construction stages, but has been operated successfully at low
power since November 1946. It is planned by the Laboratory to have the reactor completed in the
autumn of 1947, after which time it should be operating at a power level of several kilowatts and in
use by the Laboratory as a source of high energy neutrons for nuclear physics investigations and as
a pilot plant to investigate the possibilities of future high power atomic energy installations.
Numerous facilities are provided for irradiating materials in the neutron flux of about 10" neutrons
per cm2 per second and for allowing intense beams of moderately high energy neutrons to emerge from
the reactor. In order to increase the versatility, a graphite thermalizing column is provided on one
side of the reactor so that both fast and slow neutrons are available for experimental studies.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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