Transnational criticism

In late 1951 Ben Lewis, the core physicist leading Canada’s reactor efforts, proposed the nation build its first power producing prototype. It would take another decade for what would be called NPD (Nuclear Power Demonstration) to start working, but in the meantime, Lewis went calling on his mother country, the United Kingdom, hoping to obtain assistance. None was ever forthcoming and one of the reasons was widespread British about Lewis’s design, the heavy water reactor.

In the archives I discovered this one page takedown of that design in October 1951. The author is unspecified but I suspect it was David Goodlet, an accomplished, outspoken engineer, then at Harwell. I find this criticism fascinating because, of course, it was wrong. Lewis’s heavy water design did work and did endure to become Canada’s enduring CANDU design.

The proposed heavy water pressurised pile is not much of a heat source for a power pile. … The idea of expanding saturated steam, through a turbine … is unsound … I sometimes wish that people would spend less time proving that schemes will pay before showing that they will really work.

Goodlet, David. 1951. Comment on Dr. W. B. Lewis’ T.S.C.(51)26, Oct. 24, 1951. AB 6/869. National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.
Goodlet memo