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Reactors Designed by Argonne National Laboratory

Training Reactors

Reactors designed and operated by Argonne as a resource for training students and/or technicians.

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The Argonaut University Training Reactor

The Argonaut University Training Reactor. Click on photo to view a larger image.

When applied to nuclear reactors, the term “Argonaut” refers to a class of small nuclear research and training reactors and is actually an acronym for ARGOnne Nuclear Assembly for University Training. The Argonaut design was developed by Argonne, and the original Argonaut reactor was built at Argonne for about $100,000 and went critical for the first time on February 9, 1957. This 10-kW water cooled and moderated reactor was built to teach reactor theory and nuclear physics to university students and operated at Argonne until 1972, when it was shutdown, dismantled, and shipped to Taiwan to continue its mission of training students. Students from over 40 countries who attended Argonne's International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering were trained on the reactor during its tenure at Argonne.

For the second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, held in Geneva, Switzerland September 1-13, 1958, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission asked Argonne to provide an exhibit that would eclipse the impact of the exhibit at the conference by the Soviet Union, which was showcasing its two Sputnik satellites that had been launched almost a year earlier. Argonne responded by dismantling the Argonaut reactor, transporting it to Geneva, and reassembling it during the first four days of the conference, giving conference attendees an opportunity to see how the reactor was put together. On the sixth day of the conference, Argonne staff brought the reactor to criticality, using some of the uranium from the CP-1 reactor. During the final days of the conference, the reactor was dismantled and then shipped back to Argonne, where it was reassembled.

Using Argonne’s design, many Argonaut class reactors of various powers have been built and used throughout the world as training reactors. About ten were built and operated at nuclear engineering departments at universities in the United States.

Want to know more about the International School and the role the Argonaut played in it? Visit Argonne's page on education history at the lab: Education: The Effort Is Global.

CP-5 (Chicago Pile 5 Reactor)

Chicago Pile 5 Reactor

The Chicago Pile 5 Reactor. Click on photo to view a larger image.

Although not primarily a training reactor, the CP-5 heavy water reactor played an essential role in training of technicians working in nuclear power plants.

For more information on CP-5:
Heavy Water and Graphite Reactors: CP-5 Reactor

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Last Modified: Wed, September 25, 2013 5:41 PM