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Submarine reactor program | by Argonne National Laboratory
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Submarine reactor program

The Jan. 21, 1954, launch of the U.S.S. Nautilus, the world's first atomic-powered submarine, was the culmination of six years of planning, design, execution and testing by organizations throughout the country, including Argonne National Laboratory.


Argonne scientists and engineers developed the initial concept and created the basic design of the nuclear and steam power plant that pioneered the use of nuclear power in naval vessels.


Argonne's work on the reactor's design began early in 1948 with the creation of a new Naval Reactor Division with groups focused on nuclear engineering, heat engineering, mechanical design and materials development.


To meet Navy specifications, Argonne selected a uranium-fueled reactor with high-pressure, high-temperature water as the heat exchange medium for transferring nuclear heat to the boiler of the steam turbine propulsion plant. As design work advanced, Argonne built and tested some of the reactor components.


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Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory

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Taken on March 28, 2012