Fast burst reactors (FBRs) were some of the few first nonpower, or research, class of reactors to be designed and operated. They were the first reactors to be constructed entirely of highly enriched uranium and the first to demonstrate that core thermal expansion would be sufficient to terminate a pulse. They were also the first nonpower uranium-fueled reactors to operate with a fast-neutron spectrum and to achieve criticality solely using prompt neutrons. FBRs are considered nonpower reactors even though the peak power level in a pulse can be as high as 100,000 MW. Since FBRs use enriched uranium as fuel, all of the FBRs in the United States have been operated in U.S. federal government facilities.
This monograph encompasses and captures the near-total effort of the FBR work in the United States to date. It includes an historical background and technical descriptions of all 14 FBRs designed and the 13 FBRs operated in this country in the past six decades—two of which are still operating. It was written to summarize the wealth of information developed in the design and operation of FBRs and to recognize and preserve the enormous contribution of FBRs to scientific knowledge. It also serves as a textbook on how to design, build, and operate an FBR and its associated facility.