First Temple of the Atom


North Carolina State College


In August, 1945, mankind first used atomic energy in
a way that halted World War II. The devastating results
are now history. In September, 1953, mankind reached a
milestone in preparing to use atoms for education and
free enterprise, when North Carolina State College launch-
the world's first college-owned, openly-operated nu-
reactor. Its story is a major item in the development
of atoms for peace.

Gordon Gray
President, University of North Carolina

Cover Pictures -- Ralph Mills * Layout And Editing -- Stantford Martin, Jr.
Developed In The School of Engineering

The Hopeful Signal . . .

On September 3, 1953, two armed couriers completed their
journey from the laboratories of Oak Ridge to the campus of
North Carolina State College. And at 59 minutes past midnight
in the early morning hours of September 5, 1953, the Raleigh
Research Reactor breathed with nuclear life for the first time.

For 51 months-four years and 12 weeks-the world's first
college-owned nuclear reactor was in the making, evolving from
a dream through negotiations, design, and construction to ini-

At the time, Howard Blakeslee, the late science editor of
the nation's Associated Press Service, called the nuclear re-
of State College "the first temple of the atom"-because
of its public nature.

His opinion was well-based. The N. C. State nuclear reactor
is (1) the first to be used entirely for peacetime training and re-
, (2) the first to be operated on any college campus as a
non-AEC reactor, (3) the first to be open for public inspection
with visitors welcomed.

It is being operated for three basic purposes:

In 1949 when Dr. Clifford K. Beck conceived the idea of a nu-
reactor as the hub of an envisioned course in Nuclear En-
for State College, over 90 per cent of the nation's

Atomic Energy program was directed toward military ends.
Little thought or enthusiasm was given to peacetime uses for
the atom. Yet, the idea for this reactor grew out of the beliefs
that "(1) nuclear processes would eventually become as impor-
to our civilian economy as they already were to our military
security and (2) the established colleges have the responsibility
of training students and exploring potential benefits in this field
as they have done in other areas of technical endeavor."

By late 1953, events in the Far East, the Near East, and other
parts of the world convinced the United States that means for
winning friendly nations might well be as important as means
for delivering atomic bombs on enemy cities. And so, our na-
intensified its efforts in the solemn mission of producing
atomic power for peaceful purposes and sharing such tech-
with others.

Today, we stand at the gateway to a new era of nuclear
energy. According to the Soviet government, a pilot plant, run
by nuclear fuel, began producing electricity in Russia last June.
England has been working hard on a large power plant for
over two years. Norway, Sweden, and France are pushing
plans for such plants. And the United States began full-scale
efforts in this direction in October, 1953.

So far, Brazil, Belgium, Sweden, India, Spain, Germany,
Japan, Turkey, Australia, and Argentina, among foreign na-
, and 20 universities in this country, have sent representa-
to Raleigh to learn how a research reactor project is de-
. In its first year of operation, the State College Reactor
attracted over 6,000 visitors.

A new national society of Nuclear Science and Engineering
has been formed, with recent public meetings of nuclear scien-
attracting over 1,000 delegates. And in this growing tide,
the Raleigh Research Reactor stands like a beacon flashing the
hopeful signal-"Atoms for Peace, Atoms for Peace . . ."

How-it has been asked many times-did this project come

In the beginning was the ground breaking, observed
here by Physicists Menius, Meares, Lancaster, and Beck.

When completed, the Reactor Shield had 8 sides with
radiation ports in each side and trenches for work tables.

The Dream...

Right after World War II, State College entered an era of
transition and expansion unparalleled in its history. Millions of
dollars were being invested in new buildings, in modern equip-
, and in a general effort to make the college more excel-
and more useful to all the people.

Led by the far-sighted vision of Dean J. H. Lampe, the School
of Engineering
was working day and night to raise its stan-
, to expand its physical facilities, to increase the number
and stature of its staff, to build the training opportunities and
activities of its graduate students.

By 1948, it was obvious the Physics Department would have
to be expanded and strengthened to achieve the Dean's plans
and ambitions for the School of Engineering. Traditionally, the
Department had provided "service" instruction primarily at the
sophomore level. But it could hardly furnish foundational sup-
to the graduate programs in engineering unless its own
ranks, facilities, and instructional program in Engineering Phy-
were bolstered.

So, in 1949 the Legislature allocated funds to renovate and
re-equip the physics laboratories and to add new members to
the staff. In early June of that year, the quest of college offi-
for a new head of the Physics Department, to succeed
Prof. C. M. Heck who had retired after many years of devoted
service, led to Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

There they found the man in Clifford K. Beck, then Director
of Research and Co-director of the Laboratory Division at Car-
's K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant. A native North Caro-
from Rowan County, Dr. Beck had earned degrees from
Catawba College, Vanderbilt University, and the University
of North Carolina
. He had worked two years on the now
historic Atomic Energy (Manhattan) Project at Columbia Uni-
in the early forties, and in the mid-forties had gone to
Oak Ridge where he worked five years until his call to State

When N. C. State approached him, Dr. Beck was ready to
return to the teaching profession in which he had served for

As building progresses, a dome roof covers the Reactor
and a 110-foot ventiliation air stack starts up at right.

With the Reactor ready, Dr. Beck greets two armed cou-
riers arriving with the nuclear fuel from Oak Ridge.

... And Origin

five years between Catawba and Vanderbilt days. Although
other major institutions had invited him, the State College op-
attracted him-for here was a growing School of
led by forward-looking people and a Physics De-
faced with the challenge to expand.

The desire of State College to develop its Physics Depart-
gave him an idea. Physics, like the rest of the world, had
been ushered into a new age-the Atomic Age. Physics, in
fact, had done most of the ushering. Then why not develop the
State College Physics Department around a small nuclear re-
-a research and teaching reactor on which future Nuclear
Engineers might be trained?

The idea was startling, at first, but did not seem impossible.
Dr. Beck discussed it informally with responsible members of
the AEC before suggesting it to college officials. The en-
his colleagues and associates in the AEC gave
the idea was fundamental to its future development. Many
thoughtful and responsible AEC members were concerned
about the lack of civilian opportunities in this historic new field.
It was natural, then, that they extended vigorous support to
Dr. Beck's unique idea of a nuclear reactor at N. C. State Col-

Reception of the idea by college officials was equally en-
thusiastic. Particular recognition must be given to the support
of J. H. Lampe, Dean of Engineering, the late J. W. Harrelson,
who was then Chancellor of State College, and W. D. Car-
, Jr.
who was then Acting President of the University.
These administrative leaders bore official responsibilities dur-
the crucial decisions on the Reactor Project. They not only
accepted the responsibility of the project but vigorously pro-
and encouraged it. This nuclear reactor stands today be-
of their support and resolute courage.

And so, an idea met a man, a commission, and a college.
And today, the idea has become a program attracting 6,000
visitors a year, awarding the first Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engi-
, operating the first college-owned nuclear reactor.

The first uranium is poured in Reactor loading tube as
Dr. Beck maintains close contact with the control room.

This panel controls fuel to run the Reactor 300 years,
giving more radiation than $200 million worth of radium.

Beyond The Bounds Of Normal Duties...

In the words of its director, Dr. C. K. Beck, "The success of
the training program in Nuclear Engineering and of the Re-
Reactor Project must be credited to the loyalty and
support of the staff, both those here at the outset of the new
program and those who have joined us since the venture was
launched. To promote this program, scientists, physicists, and
dedicated teachers have labored tirelessly, sometimes tedi-
, with devotion and persistence beyond the usual boun-
of assigned duties. To them, this college, the people of
North Carolina, and the nation owe much for creating the
first non-AEC nuclear reactor program in the history of the

"It is not possible to call the whole roll. But even a brief
account must recognize the contributions of a dependable core
of devoted colleagues who shouldered major parts of the job."

B. S. from Catawba College, 1937 . . . Ph.D. from UNC,
1942 . . . physics staff, Clemson College, 1942-44 . . . war re-
with Johns Hopkins Applied Research Laboratory,
Silver Springs, Maryland . . . back to Clemson in 1946
to N. C. State in 1949 . . . in their native Rowan County,
at Catawba College, and at UNC, Beck and Menius were
student associates . . . he helped plan the Nuclear Engineer-
course . . . assisted in all areas of designing and build-
the reactor.
Now Graduate Administrator in the Physics Department.

B. S. from Bethel College in his native Kansas, 1938 . . .
M.S. from Kansas State, 1943 . . . Ph.D. from UNC, 1948
. . . joined State College physics staff immediately . . . con-
to the Instrumentation System of the Reactor . . .
developed nuclear physics and special techniques laboratory
courses . . . served as an exchange professor in the Swedish
Royal Institute of Technology
, 1952-53 . . . now initiating
vigorous experimental program for use of the Reactor in re-

Trained to M. S. level in Nebraska . . . did research work
at University of California's radiation laboratory . . . studied
under Oppenheimer . . . became production and research
supervisor of the Electromagnetic Center at Oak Ridge -
after war, earned Ph.D. degree from Tennessee University in
1950 . . . having collaborated with Beck on several assign-
at Oak Ridge, he joined the new venture at N. C. State
in September, 1950 . . . helped with calculations, design speci-
, preparation of reports on the Reactor . . . organized
and developed special instructional courses in Nuclear En-
and Reactor Theory . . . authored the department's
first textbook in the field, "Introduction to Nuclear Engi-
Now Deputy Director of the Nuclear Reactor.

Undergraduate degree from Emory in his native Georgia.
. . . Ph.D. from Brown University, 1934 . . . instructor at
Hood College, 1932-36 . . . joined Vanderbilt staff in 1936 . . .
with two absences, remained at Vanderbilt until coming to
State College in 1950 . . . worked on Manhattan Project at
Columbia University, 1941-42 . . . member of the Research
Laboratory of the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, 1948-49 . . . has
strengthened the instructional programs in Physics . . . used
his skill and ingenuity as an experimentalist, especially in
electronics, to help plan the Reactor instrumentation system.

... A Loyal Staff Has Labored

Did part-time work as an undergraduate . . . served as a
research associate during his Master's program . . . now serv-
as a staff member while working for his Ph.D. . . .
Helped complete the plans for Reactor instrumentation . . .
constructed, installed, and tested this system . . . also ex-
it to include improved features . . . directs and de-
younger colleagues.
Now Instrumentation Supervisor of the Reactor.

M.S. from Kansas State, 1948 . . . three years in the
Instrumentation Section of the Oak Ridge National Labora-
. . . came to State in September, 1953, to assist reactor
staff and work on Ph.D. . . has helped alter and extend several
auxiliary systems . . . helped install automatically operating
and well-engineered components . . . making reactor operation
more convenient and efficient.
Now Reactor Supervisor.

Led By A Dynamic Teacher, Administrator, And Physicist ...Clifford K. Beck

Holding degrees from Catawba College (B.S., 1933), Van-
(M.S., 1940), and the University of North
(Ph.D., 1942), Dr. Beck came to State College late
in 1949 after serving for two years at Columbia University
on the historic Manhattan Project and for five years as a
Director of Research at Oak Ridge. At the time, State Col-
did not have an undergraduate student majoring in phy-
. Today there are more than 125 undergraduate depart-
majors and 43 graduate students. Today, also, there
stands on the North Carolina State College campus the first
University Research Reactor in the world. And less than a
year after the Reactor was activated, N. C. State granted
the first two Ph.D.'s in nuclear engineering ever awarded.

The man who conceived this venture and has directed its
growth was born in the rolling Piedmont country of North
Carolina, in Rowan County along the Yadkin River
, the old-
of eleven children. After working his way through Cataw-
, he taught school for several years to help put
some of his family through college. Later he went on to earn
his Ph.D., and early in 1942 went to work for the Atomic
Energy Commission
. From there, he went to Oak Ridge and
finally to N. C. State College.

As A Teaching Tool...

Realizing the great possibilities for service in the atomic
energy field, our School of Engineering made a concerted
effort to create a program through which young men could
learn to develop atomic energy for constructive purposes.
This program was effectuated in 1949 by a dynamic staff
whose greatest contributions have been to train capable
young men for the growing atomic energy industry.
J. Harold Lampe
Dean, School of Engineering

"Thousands of technical people in nuclear projects need a
considerable core of basic information in nuclear physics, re-
behavior, fundamental traits of radioactive materials,
rudiments of the hazards and safety precautions. . etc. . .in
addition to their usual scientific and engineering skills."

For these reasons, the North Carolina State College Physics
Department has developed a unique course in Nuclear Engi-
, to train strong, capable nuclear specialists and engi-
for the future. It trains students in basic science and engi-
courses and exposes them as well to a solid core of
nuclear technology courses.

For students scheduling a Master's program in Nuclear En-
, after an undergraduate degree in some other field,
one or two terms of preparatory courses are required before
they begin the regular graduate work.

For students scheduling Nuclear Engineering from the outset
of their college careers, an undergraduate program has been
developed. The undergraduate program in Nuclear Engineer-

General Cultural: English, Humanities, etc 18 %
Military and Physical Education 7
Basic Science: Math, Physics, Chemistry 33
Basic Engineering: Mechanics, Thermodynamics, etc 16
Nuclear Technology: Reactor theory, Radio activity techniques 18
Technical Electives in approved sequences 18

The number of students enrolling in this program is steadily
growing. In its first three years, this program granted 60 B.S.,
47 M.S., and two Ph.D. degrees. In the 1955 school year, the
program had 170 students enrolled in combined undergraduate
and graduate work.

The Nuclear Reactor serves as a tool to help train Nuclear
Engineering students in three ways:

Recent graduates of the world's first Nuclear Engineering
curriculum are doing nuclear work for the Air Force. Some are
working on nuclear-powered submarines for Westinghouse
and General Electric, others on nuclear-powered aircraft pro-
for Consolidated Vultee, Pratt Whitney, and General
. Still others are nuclear technicians on reactor projects
at AEC national laboratories. All are working on major reactor
development projects across the nation.

". . . the Colleges and Universities have a responsibility in
this new area of technology, as they traditionally have had in
other areas, to explore applications from which potential bene-
to mankind might arise."

Upon this premise, the nuclear reactor at State College was
proposed. In addition to being a teaching tool, the Reactor
serves as the heart of a diverse and far-reaching research pro-
. Its potentialities in research are great. Some projects
already under way show how versatile the Reactor is as a
research instrument.

Radiation Effects on Textile Fibers

Radiation may better the properties of textile fiber by re-
its molecules. When such molecules are exposed to
radiation, many little-understood rearrangements occur --ioniza-
, broken bonds, cross-linking between molecules, fragmen-

. . . And A Research Tool

tation, etc. Major physical changes occur, some useful, some
harmful. Cooperating with the National Bureau of Standards
and the college's School of Textiles, the Reactor staff is work-
to understand the effects of radiation and how they alter
physical properties.

Genetic Effects of Radiation

Exposing the reproductive tissues of plants and animals to
radiation affects their offspring by causing changes in the
genes. Today, when more exposure to radiation is certain
to occur, it is necessary to understand what changes are caused
in the basic interaction between radiation and organic tissue.
The Reactor staff is working with the biologists on such studies.

Porosity of Ceramic Coatings to Gases at High Temperatures

In certain engineering applications, it is important to know
whether selected gases can penetrate ceramic coatings at high
temperatures. Working with the college Mineral Industries De-
and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Reactor
staff is producing such gases in radioactive form inside of cera-
-coated sandwiches. The radioactive nature of the gases is
easily detectable when they penetrate the ceramic coatings.

Analysis of Trace Impurities by Activation

When exposed to intense neutron beams, most elements be-
radioactive and their presence can be detected by in-
sensitive to radiation. In some cases, one part of an
impurity in one billion can be detected, far smaller than any-
chemicals or microscopes can detect. Working with the
Animal Industry Department, the Reactor staff is now searching
for a way of measuring the vanishingly small trace of manga-
in the blood of animals. Studying the body's use of "micro-
," biologists say manganese appears in amounts too
small to be seen by even electron microscopes-although it is
a very important ingredient of blood.

Nuclear, Atomic, and Molecular Properties of Materials

Much of the research work with the reactor deals with un-
, but essential, problems in basic science-such
phenomena as neutron absorption, crystal structure, magnetic
properties of nuclei, scattering and diffussion of neutrons, etc.

A graduate student, working for a degree in Nuclear En-
, studies pulses of radiation from the Reactor.

The staff is now building a pile oscillator, a slow-speed neutron
chopper, a pulse-height analyzer, etc. to use in this basic re-
. Although studies with such instruments deal in highly
technical, seemingly obscure theory, their results might be as
important as the development of a new textile fiber. In any
case, they are blazing new trails into the unknown-where
anything is possible.

The unique center attracts many groups. Here Senator Malone of Nevada,
center, discusses with Dean Lampe, left, and Dr. Beck, right, such a possible
program for Nevada University. With him are two Nevada trustees.

Its Administration And Finances ...

The Raleigh Research Reactor project was initiated, organ-
, and developed in the Physics Department of the School of
Engineering at North Carolina State College

It has two administrative purposes: (1) To serve the teaching
and research programs of the Physics Department; (2) To serve
the research needs of other departments and schools on the
campus, as well as other educational, industrial, and govern-
institutions in the area.

This puts a heavy load on the Reactor staff. To meet these
diverse demands-including the extra supplies, equipment, and
staff imposed by service and cooperative research with outside
groups-the following operational policy has been set:

The Reactor is operated by the Director, who is also head
of the Physics Department, and his selected staff. Instructional
and research projects conducted by the physics staff on the
Reactor are supported by the regular college budget. Exten-
outside projects-research for other departments and
schools on the campus, and other institutions in the area-are
accepted on a self-supporting basis. That is, groups outside the
Physics Department pay for their projects on the reactor out
of their own research budgets.

In addition to teaching basic physics to students from other
departments, a physics staff of 18 people teaches over 170
students majoring in physics and also teaches over 800 students
each year from other schools and departments on the campus.

Administrative developments in the Physics Department since
1949 include four major steps:

For preliminary studies, negotiations with the AEC and actual construction of the Reactor.
(From college allocations) $130,000

For the Reactor Building
(From the Burlington Mills Foundation) $200,000
(From college allocations) $180,000

For completing the center, securing furniture, and labora-
(From 1953 Legislature) $120,000
Total capital investment approximately $630,000

As The First Non-Secret Nuclear Reactor

. . . The N. C. State College Reactor has been featured by
such mediums as Newsweek, New York Times, Investors'
Reader, Business Week, New York Herald Tribune, the three
major news services (AP, UP, INS), and scores of news-
, radio stations, and professional journals across the

. . . It has attracted nearly 6,000 visitors a year since 1953,
including special delegations from 12 foreign nations and 20
American universities, who have come to learn how to develop
a research reactor project.

. . . It has enabled the college to award the first two Ph.D.
degrees ever granted in Nuclear Engineering, in 1954, and
to develop the nation's first curriculum in Nuclear Engineer-
offering three academic degrees: B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

. . . It has played a vital part in developing one of the nation's
first textbooks on ways and means of using atomic energy
for peacetime purposes-written by its Deputy Director,
Dr. Raymond L. Murray.

The heart, or core, of the Reactor has
five parts:

1-Fuel Container. A 4-gallon stain-
steel cylinder, 11 inches in diameter
and 11 inches high.

2-Small Metal Pellet. For discharging
steady stream of neutrons into the fuel
to react with the uranium.

3-Control Rods. Two boron rods, 3/4
inch thick and 12 inches long, used to
activate and stop the reactor.

4-Cooling System. Four gallons a
minute of cold water flowing through
cooling coils immersed into the fuel.

5-Gas Disposal System. To recom-
and condense radioactive waste
gases formed in the fuel cylinder.

Its Physical Facilities: Some Facts Of Reactor Life

To understand the unique Burlington Nuclear Laboratories
, it is first necessary to understand some elementary
facts of nuclear physics and some basic characteristics of the
Reactor itself.

1-Three chief materials may be used as nuclear fuel-Ur-
235 (U-235), Plutonium 249 (Pu-249), and Uranium
233 (U-233).

Both uranium and plutonium are harmless looking,
slightly radioactive metals. They can be handled, car-
about, machined, melted, hammered, etc., without
danger of nuclear explosion, provided they are not
brought into certain geometrical configurations, into
accumulations of a particular size, and mixed with
certain otherwise harmless ingredients. When configur-
, ingredients, and geometrics are correctly ad-
, the nuclear fuel releases its stored up energy.
The nature of the conditions determine how this trans-
. Under certain conditions, it will explode violent-
: an atomic explosion. Under other conditions and
mixtures of ingredients, the energy can be released at
a controlled rate, at any desired level. The assembly
in which this controlled release occurs is a nuclear

2-When the nuclear fuel "burns" or fissions, which is the
splitting up of atoms into parts (either in an atomic
bomb or in a nuclear reactor), three primary products are
released: (1) heat, (2) radiation-of many kinds, (3)
fission products, which are the fragments of the split
atoms or the "ashes" of the fuel.
Heat. Most of the energy released by nuclear reactions

is in the form of heat. It is released uniformly through-
the fuel, not just on the surface. Except for this,
it is similar to heat from any other source. When elec-
or other useful power is obtained from nuclear
fuel, it will be secured by using the heat released by
nuclear reaction. For example, the heat may be used to
produce steam which, in turn, may drive a turbine that
generates electricity. The most exciting fact about
heat from nuclear fuel is the amount. One pound of
uranium can release the same amount of heat as three
million pounds of coal.

Radiation. When nuclear fuel is burned, many kinds of
radiation are given off. The most important kinds
are (1) gamma rays and (2) neutrons. Both gam-
and neutrons are invisible, penetrating, dangerous,
and damaging. Both travel in straight lines until they
collide with something, and then they "scatter." Basic-
, neutrons and gammas are different. Gamma rays
are rapidly weakened by penetrating layers of lead
or other heavy metals. But they penetrate light ele-
, like hydrogen and carbon, quite readily. Neu-
behave oppositely. They penetrate lead almost
as readily as air. But they are quickly absorbed by
such hydrogen materials as water or paraffin.

Fission Products. The fragments left after the "burn-
" or fissioning of the atoms in nuclear fuel are called
"fission products." Some are gaseous. Others are solid.
All are very radioactive. Many are poisonous to the
continuation of the nuclear reaction which produced
them. At intervals, they must be removed from the
unburned fuel, as ashes are removed from a coal fur-
. This is very difficult to do. If a large nuclear
power industry develops, the disposal of radioactive
wastes will be one of the most difficult problems to

3-Pros and Con of Radiation. Radiation in large amounts
is not only dangerous to living organisms, but is also
destructive to many solids, including structural materials.
Equipment for using the heat from a reactor must with-
radiation. This is one problem hindering develop-
in some areas, including economical production of
power from nuclear reactors.

On the other hand, radiation is not all nuisance. When
exposed to radiation, most materials themselves become
radioactive. This fact underlies the production of most
radioisotopes. Many of these are valuable to medical ther-
, research, and scientific exploration.

Also, the direct effect of radiation itself on chemicals, on
crystals, on genetics in living organisms, is interesting and
valuable to scientific research.

Here is the core of the Reactor -- a 4-gallon can for the
nuclear fuel, the cooling coils, and the control rods.

Reactor Fuel And Reactor Core . . .

The Raleigh Research Reactor "runs on a 4-gallon can of
greenish-yellow liquid-a uranium solution bubbling like ginger
ale that will last 300 years."

In these words, Newsweek magazine once described the
heart of the State College Nuclear Reactor. The Atomic Energy
supplied 999 grams of U-235, but only 787 grams
were needed to bring the Reactor into operation. The fuel was
delivered in 12 small bottles in carefully weighed portions, to
insure correct incremental addition to the Reactor.

The heart, or core, of the Reactor has five basic parts:

1-The Fuel Container. This is a 4-gallon stainless steel
cylinder, 11 inches in diameter, 11 inches high. The Reactor
was started by pouring successive portions of the liquid fuel
into this cylinder and diluting it after each addition with a
measured volume of water, until the correct "critical mass"
of fuel had been added.

2-A Small Metal Pellet. As the fuel was added, a small
metal pellet containing radium and beryllium discharged into
the cylinder a continuous stream of neutrons. These neutrons
do the same for nuclear fuel as oxygen does for coal or gas
combustion. They react with the nuclei of uranium atoms.
When an adequate fuel supply had accumulated, the neutrons
from the metal pellet reacting with the uranium nuclei start-
a nuclear chain-reaction. The Reactor was then "on its
own power."

3-Control Rods. As the population of neutrons in the
fuel increases, the Reactor power rises. As the neutrons de-
, the Reactor power lowers. To control the neutron
population, neutron absorbing control rods are inserted or
removed. The operator of the Reactor controls it by two ver-
rods, motor-driven inside of sheaths in the fuel cylinder.
To activate the Reactor, these rods are raised from the fuel.
Its power grows with the distance the rods are lifted from
the solution. To stop the Reactor, the rods are lowered and
fully inserted into the fuel. One rod will stop the reaction,
but two are provided for safety. These rods are operated from
a control panel overlooking the Reactor Room.

4-A Cooling System. To keep the solution at a desired
temperature, the heat must be removed. This requires a
cooling system. Four gallons a minute of cold water flows
through cooling coils immersed in the fuel solution, permit-
the Reactor to operate at its maximum level of 10,000
watts (heat equivalent) while still maintaining a temperature
of 70 to 80 degrees C.

5-A Gas Recombiner-Disposal System. As the Reactor
operates, a small amount of gas forms in the fuel solution,
accumulating in the top of the 4-gallon cylinder. This gas is
largely hydrogen and oxygen caused by the radiation-
of water in the solution, with some gaseous
fission products. The gas cannot be released because it is
too radioactive. It cannot be stored because it is so explosive.
The alternative is to recombine the hydrogen and oxygen
into water, which is done in a special catalyst chamber, and
store the residue of gaseous fission products. These gases are
stored in a special water-submerged system until their dan-
radioactivity has disappeared, and then they are re-
through the ventilation stack of the building in harm-
diluted concentrations.

Enclosing the Reactor core -- the small can of fuel and its
connecting controls -- is this massive, 250-ton shield.

Reactor Shield
And Its Access Ports . . .

The heart or core of the Reactor is enclosed in a snug-fitting
aluminum safety envelope. This envelope consists of two parts:
(1) a stove-pipe portion around the core which extends up-
to the other part; (2) a large rectangular "box" con-
the drive motors of the control and safety rods and
other components.

If heat were the only ingredient given off by nuclear re-
, this core would be the only component needed in a
nuclear reactor. But radiation is another thing. It demands many
layers of materials to absorb it.

The first blanket of shield surrounding the core is 22 to 24
inches of special high purity graphite. Around the graphite is
a layer of lead, 4 to 8 inches thick. Covering the lead is a
massive bulk of special concrete, 5 to 6 feet thick. The entire

shield covering the small can of fuel and its connecting con-
is a huge octagonal structure, 17 feet across and 12 1/2
feet high. It weighs more than half a million pounds, including
over 200 tons of concrete, 10 tons of graphite, and 13 tons
of lead. The massive eight-sided shield resembles "a huge con-
derby, with a wide, flat brim," as the College News Bu-
once described it.

Actually, the small reactor core at the center of all this
shielding is the heart of the assembly in which heat and ra-
from the nuclear fuel is generated. Most of the 250-
bulk is the shield in which the radiation is absorbed.

The rays and radiation particles penetrating the fuel cylin-
number almost a million million neutron particles and fully
as many gamma rays each second over each square centimeter
of the surface. The slowest rays and particles move over a mile
per second, with some moving at nearly the speed of light, 186,-
miles a second. Any living organism exposed to full radia-
from the Reactor core operating at full power would die
in a few minutes.

Openings in the Reactor shield enable radiation beams
to flow into external samples or permit samples to be
inserted close to the core for intense radiation tests.

For these reasons, enough thick layers of absorbing ma-
are used so the Reactor could operate even at 1,000
times its design level without injuring anyone in the reactor

For those interested in getting power or energy from the heat
of a nuclear reactor, the radiation that accompanies the heat
is a nuisance. For those doing research on a reactor, such as the
Raleigh Research Reactor, the radiation is important to the ex-
investigations for which the reactor was built.

On the State College Reactor, a number of tubular pipes
were built horizontally from the outer surface of the Reactor
shield inward through successive layers of shielding materials
to the core.

These tubes can be opened for transmission of radiation
beams into experimental apparatus outside the shield or they
may serve as channels for inserting experimental samples
into the vicinity of the core where radiaction intensity is high.
When not in use, these access ports are filled with snug-fitting
concrete, lead, and graphite plugs. When experimental work
is not going on, the openings of the access ports are closed with
special combination locks to prevent unauthorized tampering.

Since eight experimental access ports were needed, the shield
was made in an actagonal shape, with one access port at
the center of each of the eight faces. Also, two or three special
ports go through the shield at particular angles and at some
distance from the core, providing for special experiments. One
small experimental port extends from the top of the reactor
shield straight down into the very center of the Reactor core.
Samples inserted into this port are exposed to the very highest
radiation of this Reactor.

The Reactor Building has five basic

1-Reactor Room. An octagonal pit,
with dome roof, motor driven crane,
beam traps and storage tubes in the
walls, floor trenches with special cov-
that can be raised into working
tables for use in experiments.

2-Control Room. Master console, for
recording experiments, controlling the
Reactor, and communicatng with other
areas in building.

3-Observation Room. Semi-circular,
four-tier room seating 55 people, with
windows that hold water to provide an
8-inch shielding when needed.

4-Ventilation and Safety. Air
filtered 3 times before going up ex-
stack and special monitors warn
against discharge of unsafe radiation.

5-Offices and Labs. For Reactor staff
and for research and teaching.

Burlington Nuclear Laboratories: Center Of Functional Features

The building which houses the State College Reactor is named
the Burlington Nuclear Laboratories, in honor of the Burling-
Mills Foundation
which made the initial contribution to
construct this "first temple of the atom."

The Reactor Room, an eight-sided or octagonal pit, has many
features, including 22 feet clear space between all eight sides
of the Reactor and the wall of the room and a ceiling height
of 35 feet, so experiments can be conducted at each face and
on top of the Reactor simultaneously.

A dome roof, 35 feet above floor level and 3 feet above
the flat roof covering the rest of the building, spans the en-
60-foot diameter of the room. Made of glass, the 3-foot
sides of the dome provide natural light.

Just beneath the heavy steel beams supporting the dome
roof, a motor-driven crane is used: (1) To raise and lower
objects from the floor, (2) To move them toward and away
from the center of the room, (3) To sweep them around to vari-
locations in the room.

The floor of the Reactor Room is eight feet below ground
level. Radiation beams permitted to flow from the Reactor's
access ports and strike experimental materials must be stopped
somewhere. If they were allowed to strike the walls of the

In modern laboratories, students are able to study the
effects of the Reactor in various experiments.

The Reactor sits in the center of a room that is 8 feet
below ground level, 60 feet in diameter, 35 feet high.

room, radiation would be scattered over the whole building.
So, large 18-inch holes are set in the walls opposite each
access port on the Reactor shield, opening into 15-foot pipes
that carry the radiation into the earth where it is absorbed.

Just above each of these beam traps, several small pipes
extend 15 feet into the earth. Closed by concrete plugs, these
pipes serve as storage tubes for radioactive materials. All
samples are moved in and out of the tubes by long-handle
tools, 15 to 20-feet long.

Work tables have been provided in a unique way. Trenches
4 feet wide and 19 inches deep beneath the pathway of
each beam are covered by plywood panels that form part of
the floor but can be raised into working tables for use in
experiments. An operator standing in the trench beside the
panel may work at standard laboratory table height, with the
usual lab facilities of water, gas, and electricity provided along
the opposite wall of the trench.

These trench panels are covered with a heavy grade lino-
, to give a good working surface. The rest of the Reactor
room floor is covered with asphalt tile. Beneath both the lino-
and the tile double layers of heavy felt cover the con-
underneath. If radioactive materials fall on the floor, the
asphalt tile or linoleum strip can be removed. If radioactive ma-
does leak through the asphalt, the absorbent layers of
felt will prevent penetration into the concrete surfaces below.

Eight feet of the concrete wall in the room is covered by
smooth-finish ceramic tile which can be washed down with wa-
in case of contamination by radioactive dust. The same
system of floor and wall covering protects all laboratories han-
radioactivity in the building.

Located in the center of the reactor building, the reactor
room is surrounded by laboratories of various sizes on the east,
west, and north sides. Some are used for student instruction,
others for research. The south side of the building houses four
staff offices, the entrance lobby, the observation room, and
the control room.

To the observation room, people may come freely at any
time, see a nuclear reactor in operation, and observe the ex-
in progress around the faces of the Reactor. At no

other place on earth is such an unrestricted privilege available.
The observation room is semi-circular with four tiers of seats
looking into the reactor room from an elevation of six feet
above its floor level. The entire wall between the reactor room
and the observation room is made of special windows that can
be filled with water to provide 8 inches of shielding if enough
scattered radiation should require it.

Located west of the observation room, the control room has
a master console which controls the experimental work in the
reactor room and the behavior of the Reactor itself. Instrumenta-
includes a bank of 12 automatic chart recorders keeping a
record of important facts from the Reactor and from experi-
. An inter-communication system from the console to
other parts of the building keeps the operator in touch with
work in all the laboratories.

By electric switches and locks, the operator controls all doors
to the reactor room. No one can enter the room without clear-
by the operator who knows the infrequent occasions when
it would not be safe for a person to enter.

With Special Safety Features...

To insure that unsafe amounts of radioactivity do not go into
the city sewer system, all waste lines from the work areas of
the Reactor Building flow through two underground tanks that
have radiation monitors. If radioactive materials of unsafe
level should flow down the waste line, the radiation monitors
in the holding tank sound the alarm and automatically close
the exit valve, holding the materials in the tank and preventing
them from flowing into the city system.

Analysis may prove it safe after all for release into the city
system, or it may have to be held a few days for radioactive de-
of short-lived materials. If the radioactivitity is high level
and long-lived, the material is pumped out and sent to Oak
for disposal.

Beyond this, special radiation monitoring instruments are
worn by each person who works around the Reactor. Radiation
monitors are located in the ventilation air-streams of the build-

A system of radiation monitors inside the reactor building

From the observation room, through special-plated win-
, the visiting public can watch Reactor experiments.

In a control room alive with meters and dials, students
learn to operate a reactor and to interpret experiments.

. . . With A Special Heating And Ventilation System

and at strategic points around the campus continuously measure
and record the level of radiation in the atmosphere to furnish
positive evidence that the amount of radiation normally present
in the atmosphere is not hazardously increased by the Reactor.

As in almost any other modern day activity, there are haz-
associated with the operation of a reactor. These hazards
can be avoided by careful design, adequate safety instrumen-
, and alert attention to the requirements of safety. Such
measures are abundantly present in the State College Reactor.

If small amounts of radioactive gases or volatile materials
are accidentally released in the work areas of the building,
the ventilation system is designed to minimize such hazards.
Large areas of glass-wool filters are built into the over-hanging
eaves of the building. Behind these filters, ducts lead through
the attic space to the various laboratories. Outside air sweeping
in through this filter-duct system is distributed to each work area.

In the floor of each laboratory room, opposite the entrance
duct, there is a filtered exit to a duct system under the floor.
These exit ducts converge into a large plenum chamber in an
underground passageway at the rear of the building. Here the
air is filtered a third time and passes through one or the other,
or both, of two 15,000 cfm blowers that discharge into the
base of the 110-foot stack at the rear of the building.

Through a dual heating system, the building is warmed in
winter. A series of steam coils in the entrance air ducts keep
the incoming air about 60 F, while radiant heating coils in
the lab floors and reactor room walls retain normal warmth
for the building. This combined system keeps the building com-
, even with the large amount of through-flowing air.

The rate of flow changes the air every eight minutes, diluting
any accidental releases well below safe limits. Further dilution
occurs as the material spreads out from the top of the stack.

If the radiation level in the ventilating system goes above pre-
levels, a general alarm is sounded, the reactor is auto-
closed down, and the blowers turn off so the ma-
is not discharged into the atmosphere.

This 110-foot stack is just one of many safety features
designed to minimize any small amounts of radioactive
gases or volatile materials that might be released in oper-
the Reactor. Other precautions include:

1-The basic design of the Reactor itself, with heavy
shielding to guard against radiation and heat.

2-Automatic monitors that ring bells and sound alarms
if unsafe radiation levels are neared in the building or any-
on the campus.

3-Certain staff members with sole responsibility to be
on guard against unsafe conditions.

4-Careful instruction on the hazards involved to every
person doing experiments on the Reactor.

5-Detailed check on the construction and plan of the
project by all Atomic Energy Commission safety committees.

6-Carefully devised safety rules vigorously enforced.

7-Periodic inspections by the AEC. (Provision is made for
the nuclear fuel to be withdrawn if the safety standards are
not maintained.)


Man has opened many doors since he first discovered
how to use stones to make fire--industrial, commercial, scien-
, agricultural doors showing the way toward a better
life. But never has he opened a door toward greater poten-
than the atomic door he is now opening. We are
both humbled and thrilled to know our State College Re-
is a pioneer in this new search for a better age.
Carey H. Bostian
Chancellor, North Carolina State College

. . . In Appreciation

When the Reactor was launched in 1953, President Gray
appropriately called it "another important milestone" toward
atoms for peace. He put it this way:

"The Atomic Energy Commission in its approval of the Re-
and its encouragement of a research and training pro-
in nuclear technology at North Carolina State College
has reached another important milestone toward the develop-
of peacetime applications of nuclear processes. We are
happy for this additional opportunity which is afforded . . .
our scientific staff to rise to the challenge of leadership in this,
another field of vital significance to our state and nation."

The N. C. State College Nuclear Reactor is the forerunner
of all openly-operated, college-owned reactors of the future.
It was the first one and is still the only one, though others are
now in design and construction stages. It was conceived in
the basic belief that nuclear processes should be-and shall
be-used to benefit mankind rather than to destroy him.

We of North Carolina State College join the people of our
state and nation in appreciation to the North Carolina General
Assembly and the Burlington Mills Foundation for the generous
part they played in creating this pioneer center for studying
peacetime applications of nuclear processes.

Atoms should raise man, not destroy him. Upon this pre-
, we dedicate this reactor, this building, and our own ef-
as we move into the thrilling tomorrows of nuclear en-

The mission is a great one, in many areas a solemn one, in
all areas a challenging one, as we strive to help man develop
some of the exciting potentialities of God's newest gift-atomic

Price Fifty Cents

For Further information, Write the Physics Department, North Carolina State College