Fermi One

Worlds First Fast Breeder Commercial Power Reactor

Monroe County, Michigan

This Photo is used on this site by Special Permission of The Power Reactor Development Corporation & Detroit Edison who are the copyright holders. Unauthorized used is prohibited by law.

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1950s brought the dawn of the Commercial Atomic Age. Detroit Edison was involved with Dow Chemical in designing the world's first commercial liquid-metal cooled fast-breeder reactor - the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant (Fermi 1) shown here in operation. The company broke ground for Fermi 1 in 1956 and the nuclear plant operated from 1963-1966 and 1970-1972.   This plant set a benchmark for environmentally sound and sustainable energy production.  The stack is for an oil-fired boiler to permit turbine operation during periods of reactor refueling and modification.

A number of companies that made up the Power Reactor Development Corporation that owned Fermi 1.  It is important to understand that Fermi One was one of the first power reactors of its type that operated safely and proved the feasibility of the fast breeder design on a commercial scale.  The first experimental fast breeder, ERB-1 reactor is preserved as a historic site in Idaho.

 I do not believe John G. Fuller’s book We almost lost Detroit to be at all factual.  This book like the bulk of his other is work historical fiction or fantasy based on just enough fact to give the work a ring of truth.

Yes, a zirconium sodium flow deflector did fracture possibly due to an unanticipated vibration mode partially blocking sodium flow through a portion of the reactor.  Several fuel rods were damaged by overheating but nothing approaching a meltdown occurred.  All of the zirconium deflectors were removed using special video equipment and tools that were developed, much of it locally.  This took a lot of patience, time and ingenuity. 

A Few Links

The Nuclear Energy Institute


The Canadian CANDU reactor design

The EBR-I Experimental Fast Breeder on the Atomic Heritage Site

The Nuclear History Site

Flying Saucer Fiasco Look Magazine, May 14, 1968 By John G. Fuller

John G. Fuller Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife The New York Review of Books


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