The Experimental Breeder Reactor-I - Atlas Obscura

Butte County, Idaho

The Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

Explore the history of atomic energy at the world's very first nuclear power plant!

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.


Check out our full lineup of amazing adventures taking place all around the world on Obscura Day, our annual celebration of discovery!

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