The SNAP-10A reactor power system

April 10, 2024, 9:31AMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
Left: A technician inserts a steel tube containing fuel into the SNAP-10A reactor core vessel. (Photo: DOE) Right: A cross-section view of the reactor. (Image: DOE)

Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) was an Atomic Energy Commission program with the goal of producing a portable and dependable power source centered around nuclear technology that could be utilized in land, sea, and space applications. The program aimed to provide a compact reactor—a necessity for space applications—and ran from 1955 until 1973, when it was discontinued.

Clementine—The world’s first fast neutron reactor

March 19, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
The exterior of the Clementine nuclear reactor at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. (Photo: LANL)

In March 1949—75 years ago this month—the 25-kilowatt reactor known as Clementine reached full power. As an experimental reactor, it had a rather long and successful run. It was the world’s first fast neutron (high-energy) reactor and operated from initial criticality in 1946 to final shutdown in 1952.