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Chicago Pile 1 physical/technical details

  1. Dec 1, 2011 #1
    Hey guys, it's been awhile since I've been around here but I could use some help!

    I'm trying to throw together a rudimentary neutron diffusion simulation of Chicago Pile 1 but I'm having trouble finding some technical details on it.

    I need to find details on the dimensions of the reactor. Things like how the uranium metal/oxide blocks, graphite blocks, and control rods were arranged. Basically I need a labeled and dimensioned technical drawing of the reactor. If something like that is super hard to come by then I could at least use a good general description of the uranium distribution along with at least the external dimensions of the pile. I've read that the whole reactor is approximately the size of a squash court and that the pile is somewhat of a flattened ellipsoid, but I would love to have a better picture than that.

    I'm also having trouble finding a few other technical details such as U-235 enrichment % of the uranium metal and oxides and what kind of material the control rods were.

    There is a ton of information available on the history of this reactor but the technical details are sparse. If anyone has any technical sources they could point me to I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks for your time!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2011 #2


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    The site below has some cross-sectional pictures, from which you could make some estimates of the dimensions. It also lists the total size, and the masses of graphite and uranium. I thought it was natural uranium, but I'm not sure. I don't think they had a source of enriched uranium. I don't know about the control rods.

  4. Dec 1, 2011 #3


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    Nice pictures. From that site:

    "The completed pile contained 771,000 pounds of graphite, 80,590 pounds of uranium oxide and 12,400 pounds of uranium metal when it went critical. It cost about $2.7 million to produce and build. The pile took the form of a flattened ellipsoid which measured 25 feet wide and 20 feet high."
  5. Dec 1, 2011 #4


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    An amusing side-note:

  6. Dec 1, 2011 #5
    Hey thanks guys! Those atomic archive links seem to be the best thing out there at the moment. It's still not quite as technical as I'd like, but I can at least get a good start with it.

    If anyone else either now or in the future is also interested in this- I've found some technical details on the control rods and uranium fuel at the oak ridge national laboratory website in this pdf:

    http://www.ornl.gov/info/reports/1957/3445605702068.pdf [Broken]

    I've also actually emailed UOC to see if they had any technical info on site that I might be able to get a hold of and I will post anything I can get from that.

    After the model is complete I'll try to upload my matlab files for anyone interested.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Dec 1, 2011 #6


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