On December 20, 1951, Idaho’s Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 (EBR-I) became the first power plant to produce electricity using atomic energy. As part of a test to see whether usable electricity could actually be culled from a nuclear reaction, four symbolic lightbulbs were lit. The experiment was a success and the facility went on to power its whole building with nothing but its toaster-sized nuclear core.
With the breeder reactor (a type that produces more fuel than it uses) a proven concept, it was only a few years before working nuclear reactors began popping up around the world. The EBR-I continued to operate until 1964, never acting as a public plant but instead as a test bed for experimenting with the new energy source. When the site was decommissioned it was turned into a museum, and it is now a national historic landmark devoted to the history of nuclear energy and its own role in it.
On Saturday, May 6, the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I will open its doors in celebration of Obscura Day, and self-guided or guided-tours will be offered throughout the day.
RSVP is highly encouraged.
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