Remembering Charles E. Till

March 28, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Charles E. Till

Charles E. Till, an ANS member since 1963 and Fellow since 1987, passed away on March 22 at the age of 89. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Imperial College, University of London. Till initially worked for the Civilian Atomic Power Department of the Canadian General Electric Company, where he was the physicist in charge of the startup of the first prototype CANDU reactor in Canada.

Till joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1963 in the Applied Physics Division, where he worked as an experimentalist in the Fast Critical Experiments program. He then moved to additional positions of increasing responsibility, becoming division director in 1973. Under his leadership, the Applied Physics Division established itself as one of the elite reactor physics organizations in the world. Both the experimental (critical experiments and nuclear data measurements) and nuclear analysis methods work were internationally recognized. Till led Argonne’s participation in the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE), and he was the lead U.S. delegate to INFCE Working Group 5, Fast Breeders.

In 1980, Till became Argonne’s associate laboratory director for engineering research. He led the large fission reactor program for more than 17 of its most innovative and productive years, as well as other engineering programs in fusion power, arms control and nonproliferation, nuclear waste management, and general engineering. During his tenure, he maintained the unswerving vision that fast reactors provide the best, most viable long-term energy solution for the U.S. and the world. His determination, his strong leadership of sites and teams in both Illinois and Idaho, and his superb technical judgment were the key factors in creating the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) concept.

As a passionate spokesperson and committed technical expert, Till had great effect on the direction of advanced reactor development in the United States. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1989 and was awarded the Walker Cisler Medal by the American Nuclear Society in 1994. Both the IFR concept, with all its features and ramifications, and the comprehensive infrastructure of reactor development expertise, capability, and facilities at Argonne are a lasting legacy of his extraordinary career. In early 1998, Till retired from Argonne but stayed active advising national laboratories and the Department of Energy on nuclear energy issues.

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