The New Power — The Story of the National Reactor Testing Station (1965 film)

By Dr. Nick Touran, Ph.D., P.E., 2023-07-04 , Reading time: 6 minutes

We’re excited to announce the recent digitization of this 1965 film summarizing the test reactors and other activities of the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), known today as the Idaho National Lab (INL). This is the second of four historical nuclear films in our latest batch of 4K digitizations from 16mm film at the National Archives.

1965 US Atomic Energy Commission video about the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), known today as the Idaho National Lab (INL). Digitized by us from the National Archives (NAID 88194)

Catalog description: This nontechnical film, for all audience levels, tells how the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho is furthering the USAEC's quest for economic nuclear power. Most of the more than 40 experimental nuclear reactors built, being built, or planned there are described either historically or currently, including the Navy's prototypes for the submarine Nautilus and aircraft carrier Enterprise; the internationally known testing reactor complex (MTR, ETR, ATR); the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant, the Army's mobile low power nuclear plant (ML-1); and the importance of breeding nuclear fuel as authorized by the two Experimental Breeder Reactor complexes, EBR-I and EBR-II. Also discussed are the USAEC's leading reactor safety programs SPERT and STEP (Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and Safety Test Engineering Program). The film also explains the basic principles of power reactor construction and operation in an animated sequence that is also available as a separate film titled, "Basic Principles of Power Reactor Operation.

Thanks to Ross Koningstein for his help in making this happen.

Read more about NRTS/INL

Contents of the film by timestamp include:

  • 00:00 Intro and pioneering
  • 01:14 Intro to the NRTS
  • 03:18 Scarcity of fossil fuel
  • 04:38 Basics of nuclear reactors
  • 10:37 Different design options
  • 11:56 Central facilities and contractors
  • 11:56 Central facilities and contractors
  • 12:40 Destructive testing and BORAX-1
  • 13:50 BORAX-III and IV and V
  • 14:50 SPERT (I, II, III, IV)
  • 17:23 Influence on BWRs and PWRs
  • 18:05 Military reactor intro
  • 18:55 S1W Submarine prototype
  • 19:30 A1W Large Ship Reactor
  • 20:00 S5G Natural Circulation Reactor
  • 20:12 Gas Cooled Reactor Experiment (GCRE)
  • 20:53 Mobile Low Power Reactor (ML-1)
  • 21:51 Organic Moderated Reactor Experiment (OMRE)
  • 22:18 Materials Testing Reactor (MTR)
  • 25:46 Advanced Reactivity Measurement Facility (ARMF)
  • 26:25 Engineering Test Reactor (ETR)
  • 26:54 Advanced Test Reactor (ATR)
  • 29:03 Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT)
  • 30:25 Test Area North (TAN) and TSF shops
  • 31:40 Initial Engineering Test Facility (IET)
  • 32:06 Testing of SNAP-10 space reactor
  • 32:42 Safety Test Engineering Program (STEP)
  • 32:52 Loss of Fluid Test (LOFT)
  • 33:04 710 Research Reactor Experiment
  • 33:20 Experimental Beryllium Oxide Reactor (EBOR)
  • 33:44 Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (ICPP)
  • 35:28 Liquid waste disposal
  • 36:23 Waste Calcining Facility (WCF)
  • 37:42 Experimental Breeder Reactors (EBR-I and EBR-II)
  • 41:43 Thorium
  • 42:15 Summary of challenges
  • 42:46 Fuel Cycle Facility (FCF)
  • 43:50 Bridge to fusion

These are loaded into the youtube video as chapters for your convenience.

They apparently called it Prototype Prairie (2:05)

See Also

All our video digitization announcements:

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