Nuclear Science Merit Badge
Dresden Nuclear Power Station, the first privately financed nuclear power plant built in the United States, is located about three miles from Rainbow Scout Reservation near Morris, Illinois. It produces about 850 megawatts of electricity from each of its two reactors, enough to power over a million homes in Northern Illinois.
For several years, Dresden had offered merit badge clinics for Boy Scouts. The quickest to fill is the Nuclear Science merit badge because part of the program includes time in the operating simulator. Boy Scouts (and Girl Scouts) get to “drive” the power plant on the same equipment used by real technicians inside the plant.
My son was fortunate enough to get into the Nuclear Science class and we left home early in the morning to arrive and clear security before the orientation meeting began at 7:30 in the training center.
Boiling Water Reactor Fuel Assembly
This is a model of a Boiling Water Reactor fuel assembly. It consists of cylindrical rods put into bundles, each surrounded by a thin tube.
In a boiling water reactor, the reactor heats water, which turns to steam and then drives a turbine. The BWR was developed by the Idaho National Laboratory in the mid-1950s and is the style used by the Dresden Generating Station.
This is a portable radiation survey instrument made by Ludlum Measurements. People know it more commonly as a Geiger-Mueller detector or Geiger Counter.
Not only does the dial show you the level of radiation it encounters, it also makes the well-known clicking sound associated with GM detectors. It also has an alarm it the situation gets serious.
Scram the Reactor!
You know when they say, “Don’t touch that button?”
Here’s what happens when you touch that button. Fortunately, it was the simulator.
The team at Dresden Generating Station did a wonderful job with this clinic.