This week’s ANS Nuclear Cafe Friday Matinee is an excellent, professional and very modern video tour of the renowned MIT reactor facility. This entertaining video was produced in an extremely up-to-date style sure to take you in – so don’t start watching it unless you have about 18 minutes to sit back and enjoy it.
Historic Illustrations of the MIT Reactor, by Will Davis
The MIT reactor – known in the early letter identifier days as the “MITR” – was designed jointly by MIT itself and by the Nuclear Products / ERCO Division of ACF Industries. ACF had made the move to enter nuclear power in the middle 1950’s and for a time had on board Dr. Marshall Holloway who had previously been employed by the US AEC.
The November 1956 issue of the company magazine “ACF Horizons” included the following mention of the MIT reactor: “ACF has a contract with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to design, fabricate and erect a reactor with an associated building and facilities on a site near their main campus at Cambridge, Massachusetts.” The information was accompanied by the illustration reproduced below.
“Cutaway diagram shows nuclear reactor and associated facilities which ACF will design and build for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” From November 1956 ACF Horizons magazine, Will Davis collection.
The reactor was originally constructed as a 2000 Kwt heavy water moderated tank-type reactor, using universal MTR-type fuel elements. The reactor was surrounded by a graphite reflector.
“MTR type fuel” is a generic term applied to flat plate type nuclear fuel, typically roll bonded sandwich construction which is then mounted in a stacked form with multiple plates comprising one fuel element as seen here. This is a standard ‘off the shelf’ MTR type fuel element manufactured by Sylvania-Corning Nuclear, whose trade name was SYLCOR or SYL-COR. This is very