Dummy fuel rod for nuclear test reactor

Contributed by Oxfordshire Museums

MK5 dummy fuel rod of the type used in the material's testing reactors at Harwell. C Oxfordshire Museums Service

GLEEP the first nuclear reactor in Western Europe was built at Harwell in 1946.In 1946, because of its proximity to Oxford, an RAF airfield at Harwell was chosen as the site for research and development into civil nuclear power by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE). The first reactor in Europe (GLEEP -Graphite Low Energy Experimental Pile) was installed here in the 1946 followed by DIDO (1956) and PLUTO (1957). GLEEP was used to investigate how to make a reactor work and later as an international standard for materials testing and calibration allowing scientists to calculate for example how steel would behave after 40 years in a nuclear power station. Such work proved invaluable in the development of the UK's nuclear power programme. The Harwell site continued to develop and today provides a world leading centre for science, technology and innovation and is home to amongst others the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Diamond Light Source synchrotron.

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