Too early

In the very early days of nuclear power, the U.S. trade journal Nucleonics sparkled with rumors and scuttlebut (it also had much serious and valuable reportage). The December 1954 issue came out just after the passage of a new major piece of legislation opening up the nuclear power market, so the question on everybody’s lips was, “who will start making nuclear energy first?”

Famed Walter Zinn’s laboratory, Argonne, was working on an Experimental Boiling Water Reactor, a rather radical design in which the cooling water inside the pressure vessel was allowed to bubble and boil. As this short article says, EBWR’s electricity output “just about matches the laboratory’s own power requirements,” so maybe the local giant utility, Com Ed, might grab that output and feed it back into the lab? Not so easy, it turns out. However, coincidentally, Com Ed did end up building the country’s first fully private nuclear power plant, using that same “boiling water” design. However, that wouldn’t take place for a number of years.

Nucleonics Dec 54