- "Graphite Reactor" directs here. For the Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, see X-10 Graphite Reactor.
A Graphite Reactor is a nuclear reactor that uses carbon as a neutron moderator, which allows un-enriched uranium to be used as nuclear fuel. The most famous would be the one that blew up causing the Chernobyl disaster. There are several types of graphite moderated nuclear reactors that have been used in commercial electricity generation:
- Gas-cooled reactors
- Water-cooled reactors
- High temperature gas-cooled reactors (past)
- High temperature gas-cooled reactors (in development or construction)
The first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, a graphite-moderated device that produced a microscopic amount of heat, was constructed by a team led by Enrico Fermi in 1942. The construction and testing of this reactor (an "atomic pile") was part of the Manhattan Project. This work led to the construction of the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which was the first nuclear reactor designed and built for continuous operation, and began operation in 1943.
The nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl disaster was an RBMK graphite-moderated reactor. The reactor that led to the Windscale fire disaster was also a graphite moderated reactor.