By Dr. Nick Touran, Ph.D., P.E., 2023-07-05 , Reading time: 4 minutes
We’re super excited to announce the recent digitization of a 1961 film detailing a major repair of the Homogeneous Reactor Experiment-2 (HRE-2), a fluid-fueled aqueous homogeneous reactor at the Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee This reactor was an early predecessor to molten salt reactors. This is the third of four historical nuclear films in our latest batch of 4K digitizations from 16mm film at the National Archives.
HRE-2 developed a hole that leaked fluid fuel from the core region into the heavy water blanket region. They adjusted procedures and operated in this condition for a while. Later, it developed a second hole and they decided to repair it. This film shows highly specialized tools and equipment allowing them to diagnose and repair the holes remotely. Inside the core the radiation dose rate was a nearly-unbelievable 100,000 R/hr.
I read the story of the HRE-2 vessel leak many years ago in Alvin Weinberg’s autobiography (pg 124), so when I learned that there was an old video describing its repair, I knew it had to be digitized. This is an extremely rare film that probably hasn’t been viewed by hardly anyone since the 1960s… until today!
Catalog description: Illustrates the remote repair and modification of the HRE-2 core vessel, following the formation of two holes which permitted transfer of fuel to the blanket side of the reactor. Shows how special equipment had to be designed for repairing the HRE-2, and the problems involved in working with the reactor where the radiation level in the vessel was greater than 100,000 Roentgen per hour.
Thanks to Ross Koningstein for his help in making this happen.
Contents of the film by timestamp include:
These are loaded into the youtube video as chapters for your convenience.
All our video digitization announcements: