by Will Davis
In this final installment of the series on pool reactors we’ll take a look at some remarkable images found in a 1956 brochure which shows some of the steps of the process in constructing the Ford Nuclear Reactor and attendant facilities at the University of Michigan. Under the leadership of Babcock & Wilcox (today, BWXT) this 1000 KWt facility was constructed in about 19 months. Reviewing the previous article in this series will be helpful in relating the construction photos.
In our first photo, construction of the Ford Reactor facility is well underway. Here, the roughly horseshoe shaped foundation for the reactor pool can be made out; normal operating position for the core will be at the left or rounded end of the pool. In this photo the lab and administration building would be to the right.
In this view the construction of the reactor building itself, comprising the left portion of the photo, continues while the adjoining building appears virtually complete. The reactor building had foot-thick reinforced concrete walls. Perhaps “has” would be better since this facility is still standing today, although without an operational reactor.
In this mostly straight down view, a variety of beam tubes (the pipes in a half circle) can be seen converging at the location of the core when in operation. The large structure dominating the upper portion of the photograph is the thermal column, comprised of a 9 ton shell and 12.5 tons of graphite bricks. The purpose of this structure is to thermalize, or slow down, neutrons for research purposes outside the pool structure. This column was protected on the outward side by a large, heavy shielded door. However, this column could not be used with the core in the position at the bottom of the picuture; the core had to be beside
by Will Davis