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March 29, 2009, 5:25pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Buried away, with no details...

November 13, 1963:

The Scottish Research Reactor Centre at East Kilbride was opened by Sir John Cockroft, Master of Churchill College, Cambridge. The SRRC was Britain's first nuclear reactor for training and research and was shared by Scotland's five universities and Queen's University, Belfast.

Don't know if any details might turn up as relates to specific location and type.

Training and research suggests some sort of specific design for purpose, given where it was, and probably of relatively low power.

Need to find out when it was decommissioned/removed.
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March 29, 2009, 5:28pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

Forewarned is Forearmed
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Hansard  Mar 1996 : Column: 273


Experimental Nuclear Reactor Sites

Mr. Ingram: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on land ownership and lease arrangements applying to the experimental nuclear reactor sites operated by the Scottish universities research and reactor centre at the former national engineering laboratory in East Kilbride. [18065]

Mr. Kynoch [holding answer 4 March 1996]: Ownership of the site of the former National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride now rests with Scottish Enterprise. The lease arrangements which apply to that site are an operational matter for that organisation. I will ask the chairman of Scottish Enterprise to write to the hon. Member.


The decommissioning of a 300 kW Argonaut type universities research reactor and associated facilities has been completed at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre. The strategy adopted for the demolition of the reactor and its ancillary plant and buildings is discussed. One of the principal areas of the work was the effort expended on the determination of the radioisotope abundance of the reactor structure and thereby its impact on the characterization of waste for disposal and the radiation dose budget for personnel. Extensive use was made of remotely operated vehicles to minimize this dose.


The decommissioning of the nuclear research reactor and associated facilities at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre


$30 to buy, so I won't be dipping into this document for any more details.

Journal        Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part E: Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering
Publisher     Professional Engineering Publishing
ISSN           0954-4089
Issue          Volume 219, Number 1 / 2005
DOI            10.1243/095440805X7026
Pages        15-26
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March 29, 2009, 8:52pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Location: Ballachulish
Just been talking to the wife  as shes from  East Kilbride and she told me her dad had told her several times about there being a micro nuclear power plant at the NEL  

but she just put it down to his telling of tall tales  when he's had few too many pints of belhaven best  
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March 29, 2009, 9:00pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Checked the OS map - shows Birnihill.

Anechoic chambers funny thing about them is they work as well for sound as radio. Great the first time you walk in thinking radio - and your ears protest momentarily as all you normal echoes disappear too

Cute idea with the Herald. That drive system is used today to gain ground clearance. I'm struggling to think of a practical reason for driving an ordinary car that way though. Slow and lossy, unless it was some sort of alternative 4-wheel-drive system, avoiding the usual gearbox and differential problem of the primitive systems still being developed then.


The Bird's Eye view of the Technology Park is superb, and shows the former Cold War building that now houses the site's archives to good effect now that all the trees have been removed from around it, and the ground cleared and landscaped.
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March 29, 2009, 10:23pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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It's worth noting that there's nothing unusual or particularly interesting (other than to us ) about this facility at the former NEL (National Engineering Laboratory), and the Argonaut class reactor which was sited there is a design of small nuclear research reactor, of which many are reported to have been built throughout the world, over a wide range of power levels.

Its functions are to teach nuclear reactor theory, nuclear physics and for use in engineering laboratory experiments.

This generally means it would have been used to produce items such medical isotopes, and for the irradiation of samples for test and analysis.

The operating principles of the device mean it has no significant military or covert applications. Nowadays, paranoia promoted by the government's "War on Terror" is more likely to cause such facilities to become attractive as soft-targets where materials could be relatively easily obtained to create the so-called dirty-bomb which gets more publicity now that it used to before the "war" was declared.

The original Argonaut (Argonne Nuclear Assembly for University Training) was built at Argonne National Laboratory and went critical for the first time on February 9, 1957. It was shut down in 1972, and only rated at 10 kW, as compared to the NEL's 300 kw for a reactor built around 6 years later.
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March 30, 2009, 12:31pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Thought the 4-wheel-drive option would be the reason, although I don't recall ever hearing about any work at the NEL.

It was an idea that was dead before it started, as they forgot that for a given power at wheels, the engine has to produce not only that power, but enough to make up the losses for the transmission system connection the engine (whether that is internal/external combustion, electric or whatever).

Mechanical 4WD for cars then utilised old military or truck differentials, so weighed a ton and were inefficient, although the Jensen FF did a not-bad-at-all job, but it had a 6.3 litre engine, so didn't care. And there was even a little-known FFF with a slightly larger engine, and reported to 640 BHP, so it really didn't care about lossy transmissions

While the gearbox may have been saved, the same engine was still needed, and the gearbox was simply replaced by the hydraulic pump. There was also the tiny factor of 4 hydraulic motors which had to be fitted to the wheels, and then you need a differential and control system to distribute the hydraulic drive to those wheel motors. While splitting the same power would be fine when the car was travelling in a straight line, corners, bends, and curves still need some sort of differential drive as per mechanical transmission, or the in-wheel motors will still want to make the inner and outer wheels rotate at the same speed. At best this will wear out the tyres, at worst, it will make the car spin out of control at every turn, as the inner and outer wheels need to rotate at different rates, or will slip and lose grip. Catchable in the dry, an instant skid in the wet.

This is a nasty even at low road speeds, as I can confirm after driving a car with a locked rear diff - every bend, even shallow, in the wet is approached as a thing of trepidation after you have met the first one unawares

Fascinating stuff

Scoobies, Evos, and Skylines now show the hydraulic idea was a bad idea
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December 19, 2010, 4:33am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator
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It was painted yellow.  I asked one of the staff there if that was so no-one tripped over it.  He called me a smartarse.  The reactor was in the centre of a large hall, and was about the size of a small 2-storey house.  It didn't generate that much power, being used mainly for research and education.  I visited the SRRC a few times in 1993-1994 when studying environmental science at Strathclyde Uni and carried out some experiments there, basically getting used to measuring radioactivity and neutron activation analysis.  It was quite interesting.  There were a lot of lead bricks and sticky floors just inside the door of any of the areas where radioactive sources were handled.  The people who worked there were really nice, although a couple of them looked a bit sickly.
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December 19, 2010, 11:28am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Thanks hamfish

The extra detail helps paint a handy mental pic of what's been discussed.
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December 19, 2010, 4:07pm Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Location: Fort William
Weren't there several small reactors around the country, most famously the one in nuclear-free Greenwich!

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February 7, 2014, 12:22am Report to Moderator Report to Moderator

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Funny, I was sure I'd mentioned also that Kodak (in the US I might also note) had a research type nuclear reactor as well.

Just warming this thread up a little since I wanted to note this handy search tool for such research reactors around the World:

RRDB Search

The database of research reactors does not, however, appear to know about our East Kilbride installation, or Kodak's in the US.

Granted they are both gone, but the database does have a clear category for 'Decommissioned', where I was expecting to see them listed.
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