History of Research Reactors at Brookhaven
Brookhaven National Laboratory has three nuclear reactors on its site that were used for scientific research. The reactors are all shut down, and the Laboratory is addressing environmental issues associated with their operations.
Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor
- Beginning operations in 1950, the graphite reactor was used for research
in medicine, biology, chemistry, physics and nuclear engineering. One of the
most significant achievements at this facility was the development of
technetium-99m, a radiopharmaceutical widely used to image almost any organ
in the body. The graphite reactor was shut down in 1969. Parts of it have
been decommissioned, with the remainder to be addressed by 2011.
Flux Beam Reactor – The High Flux Beam Reactor, which began
operations in 1965 and was closed in 1999, was used by an international
community of scientists for experiments in nuclear and solid state physics,
materials science, biology and chemistry. The structure of the ribosome, the
“protein factory” of the cell, was discovered at the high flux reactor.
Scientists also made significant findings about chemical structures and the
nature of super-conductivity. Input from the community is being considered
in deciding on a plan for decommissioning this reactor.
Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor
- The Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor, operating from 1959-2000, was
built specifically for medical research. Boron neutron capture therapy was
one of the treatments developed at this reactor for use against
glioblastoma multiforme, an otherwise untreatable and deadly form of
brain cancer. The medical reactor is awaiting decommissioning. More history
Last Modified: May 16, 2008