The Idea That Turned Russian Warheads Into American Electricity

The Idea That Turned Russian Warheads Into American Electricity

by -

Uranium storage tanks-USEC-600pxLast month the final shipment of uranium from Russia arrived in the United States marking the end of a program that turned the fuel from 20,00 Russian warheads into electricity for the United States.

Thomas Neff, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology conceived of the idea, later dubbed Megatons to Megawatts, to let  Moscow sell its uranium from weapons retired after the Cold War, and dilute it for fuel to power electric utilities in the US. The result: Russians received much needed cash and the US benefited with an inexpensive source of power.

While in operation, the program fueled one in ten American bulbs.

Nuclear experts hail it as a remarkable, but little known, chapter of atomic history. The two decades of bomb recycling, they say, not only reduced the threat of atomic terrorism and helped stabilize the former Soviet Union but achieved a major feat of nuclear disarmament — a popular goal that is seldom achieved.

(READ the full story New York Times)

Photo, USEC:  Low-enriched uranium shipment, from 10,000 warheads, arrived in US in 2005