Alvin Radkowsky

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Alvin Radkowsky (30 June 1915 - 17 February 2002) was a nuclear physicist and chief scientist at U.S. Navy nuclear propulsion division. His work in the 1950s led to major advances in nuclear-ship technology and civilian use of nuclear power.[1]


Radkowsky was a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey. He studied electrical engineering at the City College of New York (B.S., 1935), and physics at George Washington University (M.S., 1941; advisor was Dr. Edward Teller[2]), and at Catholic University (Ph.D. 1947; Thesis: "Temperature dependence of electron energy levels in solids"[3]) He married Annette Eisenberg in 1951. (Daughter, Gilah Chukat. Six grandchildren. Brother, Lawrence Radkowsky.) He moved to Israel in 1972, and lived in Ramat Chen. Radkowsky was an Orthodox Jew, and wrote several articles on miracles and science.[4]

Radkowsky worked on nuclear reactors at the Argonne National Laboratory, in the 1930s, and also worked for the Singer sewing machine firm. He was a civilian nuclear physicist in the US Navy from 1938 to 1972, where he was chief scientist of the Bureau of Ships' nuclear propulsion division, and in which role he worked closely with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Radkowsky was also chief scientist in the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (now Dept. of Energy), Office of Naval Reactors from 1950 to 1972. He taught nuclear engineering at Tel Aviv University (1972–1994), and at Ben Gurion University (1994–2002).

In 1992, Radkowsky started what became Thorium Power Inc.[5](Nasdaq:LTBR). Thorium fueled reactors allow nations the capability to generate energy while preventing them from using spent fuels to produce nuclear weapons. He repeatedly insisted that continued use of uranium fuel would inevitably lead to nuclear terrorism. Thorium Power participated in the design of the thorium-based fuel to burn plutonium from old nuclear weapons. It is now being tested at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. The fuel RTF (Radkowsky Thorium Fuel) is named after him.[6]

By 2014, long after the Kurchatov trial was expected to have produced results, none have apparently been published. Thorium Power Inc itself has changed its name to Lightbridge and seems to have lost interest in RTF.

Noted accomplishments[edit]

  • Invented and refined methods to fuel a nuclear reactor that limited expensive reactor replacements.
  • Key inventions in both naval propulsion and commercial nuclear power plants.[7]
  • Developed a process he called "burnable poison" using boron and other elements to control and prolong the reactions in naval reactor cores.
  • Headed a design team that built the first full-scale civilian nuclear power station, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station plant (Shippingport, Pennsylvania).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary,
  2. ^ Obituary,
  3. ^
  4. ^ See for example "Are There Miracles?"
  5. ^
  6. ^ Utilization of Thorium in Light Water Reactors – Radkowsky Thorium Fuel (RTF) - with an image of Dr. Radkowsky[1]
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links[edit]