The Ford Nuclear Reactor was a facility at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor dedicated to investigating the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor ( U of M, U-M, UM or simply Michigan) is a top-ranked Coeducational public research Ann Arbor is a city in the US state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. It was a part of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project, a living memorial created to honor the casualties of World War II. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including The reactor operated from September 1957 until July 3, 2003. Year 1957 ( MCMLVII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar) Events 324 - Battle of Adrianople Constantine I defeats Licinius, who flees to Byzantium. Year 2003 ( MMIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. During its operation, the FNR was used to study medicine, cellular biology, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, archeology, anthropology, and nuclear science. Medicine is the art and science of healing It encompasses a range of Health care practices evolved to maintain and restore Human Health by the See also List of basic cell biology topics. Cell biology (also called cellular biology or formerly cytology, from the Chemistry (from Egyptian kēme (chem meaning "earth") is the Science concerned with the composition structure and properties Physics (Greek Physis - φύσις in everyday terms is the Science of Matter and its motion. Mineralogy is an Earth Science focused around the Chemistry, Crystal structure, and physical (including optical) properties of Minerals Archaeology, archeology, or archæology (from Greek grc ἀρχαιολογία archaiologia – grc ἀρχαῖος archaīos Anthropology (/ˌænθɹəˈpɒlədʒi/ from Greek grc ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos, "human" -λογία -logia) is the study of The nucleus of an Atom is the very dense region consisting of Nucleons ( Protons and Neutrons, at the center of an atom
The reactor was a swimming-pool type reactor, originally operating at 1 MW using 93% enriched U-235 Aluminum-based fuel. The watt (symbol W) is the SI derived unit of power, equal to one Joule of energy per Second. Uranium-235 is an isotope of uranium that differs from the element's other common isotope Uranium-238, by its ability to cause a rapidly expanding fission WikipediaNaming It was later upgraded to 2 MW, using 19. 5% enriched fuel. The Department of Energy fabricated, transported, and disposed of the fuel at no cost to the University. The United States Department of Energy ( DOE) is a Cabinet -level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy The reactor had a peak thermal flux of 3 x 1013 n/cm²s. Heat Flux or thermal flux is a flow of Energy per unit of area per unit of time It had 10 beam ports. It was constructed by Babcock & Wilcox under a subcontract with Leeds & Northrup. The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W is an American firm engaged in the design engineering manufacture service and construction of Power generation and
The decommissioned FNR building still stands on North Campus at the University of Michigan. The building is set to be renovated into a home for the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, a university-wide program tasked with charting the path towards sustainable energy. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor ( U of M, U-M, UM or simply Michigan) is a top-ranked Coeducational public research Sustainable energy is the provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
The Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project (MMPP) was a living World War II memorial pursuing peaceful uses of nuclear energy. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including Nuclear Energy is released by the splitting (fission or merging together (fusion of the nuclei of Atom (s It was originally funded by over 25,000 private contributors, including individuals and large corporations, such as the Ford Motor Company, which donated $1 million. Ford Motor Company is an American Multinational corporation and the world's fourth largest automaker based on Worldwide vehicle sales, following The FNR was a major facility at the MMPP, but the project handled the funding of research grants throughout the university. The project eventually led to the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Directors of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project
Original calls for a war memorial came from University of Michigan students in 1947. Fred Smith, a local alumnus, suggested a project looking into the peaceful uses of nuclear power. A full page poster was printed in the Michigan Daily suggesting that the Phoenix Project will show that Americans can work to benefit the world. The Michigan Daily is the daily student newspaper of the University of Michigan. The idea stuck, and Ralph Sawyer, the Dean of the Rackham Graduate School at UM, began planning.
In February, 1955, the Atomic Energy Commission licensed the FNR. In the summer of 1955, construction began. The reactor was dedicated on November 16, 1956. On September 18, 1957, the final mechanical manipulations and calculations were taking place. With Ralph Sawyer, Henry Gomberg, and Ardath Emmons standing by, the reactor achieved first criticality around 4 in the morning on September 19, 1957. On August 11, 1958, the FNR power reached its rated level of 1 megawatt.
Research was performed in many multi-disciplined areas. Work was done investigating the safety food irradiation. Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to Ionizing radiation in order to destroy Microorganisms Bacteria, Viruses or Insects The Phoenix Lab featured a greenhouse, allowing for much of the early work on the effects of radiation on plant life to be done. Radiation, as in Physics, is Energy in the form of waves or moving Subatomic particles emitted by an atom or other body as it changes from a higher energy The Chemistry department ran a program testing radiation's ability to crack hydrocarbons. In Organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an Organic compound consisting entirely of Hydrogen and Carbon. A carbon-14 dating clock was set up, allowing scientists to accurately date organic relics. Carbon-14, 14C, or radiocarbon, is a Radioactive isotope of Carbon discovered on February 27, 1940, by Neutron radiography was possible, allowing high resolution imaging of dense materials.
Nuclear engineers often used the reactor for neutron activation analysis, a science capable of measuring trace amounts of materials. Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA is a nuclear process used for determining certain concentrations of elements in a vast amount of materials It was also used for a wide variety of other nuclear research.
The reactor pool
A hydrocarbon cracking experiment
Food irradiation research
Food preservation research
The reactor was used to produce several isotopes. Iodine-131 and Neptunium-59 were produced as a radioactive tracer for the medical school, Bromine-82 was produced for the auto companies, who made use of it to track oil consumption in internal combustion engines. Iodine-131 (131I, also called radioiodine, is a Radioisotope of Iodine which has medical and pharmaceutical uses Neptunium (nɛpˈtjuːniəm is a Chemical element with the symbol Np and Atomic number 93 A radioactive tracer, also called a radioactive label, is a substance containing a Radioisotope (which is an isotope that has an unstable nucleus and that stabalizes The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the Combustion of Fuel and an Oxidizer (typically air occurs in a confined space called a The reactor was also used to train utility workers in 1-2 week nuclear instrumentation and reactor operation courses. The reactor offered neutron- and gamma-radiation damage testing services. This article is a discussion of neutrons in general For the specific case of a neutron found outside the nucleus see Free neutron. Gamma rays (denoted as &gamma) are a form of Electromagnetic radiation or light emission of frequencies produced by sub-atomic particle interactions The FNR was often open for tours.
In June 1997, the Ford Nuclear Reactor Review Committee submitted a report to the Vice President for Research (Vince Pecoraro, at the time) on the future of the FNR. The Committee estimated that the reactor was costing the university $1 million / year.
Letters had been sent to various university departments as well as to other institutions that made use of the reactor, asking for input on their use of the facility.
Profs. Alex Halliday and Eric Essene from the department of Geology relied heavily on the reactor for their research in Ar-40 -- Ar-39 aging, and sent strong praise of the reactor. Gary Was from the department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Science explained that over 15 NERS courses rely on the reactor, as well as nearly every professor's research. The Museum of Anthropology also suggested that the loss of the reactor would have serious adverse impacts on the students and faculty. Several other departments, such as the Chemistry department, said that they had not used the reactor in 30 years and did not plan to in the future.
Outside the University community, the Michigan State University Department of Geological Science, Louisiana State University, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Georgia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NIST, the NRC, Sandia National Lab, EPRI, Ford, and GM all expressed interest in keeping the reactor operational, while NASA (among others) had no interest. Michigan State University ( MSU) is a co-educational public Research university in East Lansing, Michigan USA. Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, Coeducational The University of California Santa Barbara ( UCSB) is a selective research-oriented public university located on the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara County California The University of Georgia ( UGA) is a public research University located in Athens, Georgia, the oldest and largest of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory ( ORNL) is a multiprogram science and technology National laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI conducts research on issues of interest to the Electric power industry in the USA Ford Motor Company is an American Multinational corporation and the world's fourth largest automaker based on Worldwide vehicle sales, following General Motors Corporation ( GM) ( is a multinational automobile manufacturer founded in 1908 and headquartered in the United States. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA, ˈnæsə is an agency of the United States government, responsible for the nation's public space program
The final decision was to shutdown and decommission the reactor. The statement given by UM Vice President for Research was:
In recent years, however, the reactor's use by the U-M academic community has declined substantially to the point where the bulk of the users now come from the federal government and industry. Given this change, the University can no longer justify the reactor's substantial cost of operation, which now largely subsidizes non-University users. 
A typical full-power cycle consisted of 10 days at 2 MW followed by 4 days of shutdown maintenance, for a weekly average of 120 full-power hours. At this rate, 16 new fuel elements were required each year.
The bulk of this information is from the Bentley Historical Library on North Campus at the University of Michigan. The collection is titled: "Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project Records, 1947-ongoing" and contains over 40 linear feet of relevant material. Call number: 87278 Bimu C530 2. See  for more info. The photographs come from a local Ann Arbor resident's local collection.