Proof of concept: The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in Nuclear News

May 9, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
The December 1960 issue of NN, which announced plans to build the MSRE, paired with a still image from a 1969 video on the MSRE produced by ORNL.

By late 1960, when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission authorized plans to build a Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the lab already had about 13 years of experimentation with molten salt reactors under its longest-serving lab director, Alvin Weinberg. The MSRE operated from 1965 to 1969, proving that molten salt reactors could operate reliably, and with alternatives to uranium-235 too.

Nuclear energy: enabling production of food, fiber, hydrocarbon biofuels, and negative carbon emissions

January 27, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsCharles W. Forsberg and Bruce E. Dale

In the 1960s, Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a series of studies on nuclear agro-­industrial complexes1 to address the needs of the world’s growing population. Agriculture was a central component of these studies, as it must be. Much of the emphasis was on desalination of seawater to provide fresh water for irrigation of crops. Remarkable advances have lowered the cost of desalination to make that option viable in countries like Israel. Later studies2 asked the question, are there sufficient minerals (potassium, phosphorous, copper, nickel, etc.) to enable a prosperous global society assuming sufficient nuclear energy? The answer was a qualified “yes,” with the caveat that mineral resources will limit some technological options. These studies were defined by the characteristic of looking across agricultural and industrial sectors to address multiple challenges using nuclear energy.

Oak Ridge museum opens Alvin Weinberg’s personal archives to the public

August 19, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Alvin M. Weinberg, a founder, Fellow, and fifth president (1959–1960) of the American Nuclear Society, was a Manhattan Project physicist who studied at the University of Chicago before building a celebrated career in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he influenced the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the United States. Weinberg’s personal files tell the story of his decades of work in Oak Ridge from the 1940s to the 1980s, and the Alvin Weinberg Archive Project was created to digitize the archive, ensuring that it would be accessible to researchers and the public.

A place in time: Weinberg arrived in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in 1945, and soon became head of the Physics Division of Clinton Laboratories. In 1948, the laboratory was renamed Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Weinberg was appointed director of research, a role he held until 1955, when he was named laboratory director. In 1974, Weinberg moved 17 file cabinets from ORNL to Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), where he founded the Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) and served as its director until his retirement in 1985. Under Weinberg’s guidance, the IEA studied atmospheric carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming, as well as alternative energy sources.

Inherent and engineered safety: Did Weinberg predict today's reactors a quarter century ago?

March 28, 2013, 1:57PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Following the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident on March 28, 1979, it seemed to many as if a slowing nuclear energy industry in the United States had been dealt a death blow. It had not, but the public's confidence was shaken, and this blow to public opinion built upon a decade's worth of intensive, focused anti-nuclear effort on the part of a number of large well-funded special interest groups.