3001 Graphite Reactor

The birthplace of ORNL, the X-10 Graphite Reactor was the world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor. Built during the World War II Manhattan Project, the Graphite Reactor successfully produced plutonium (239Pu) and enabled the demonstration of the chemical separation processes used to produce plutonium for the second atomic bomb.

After World War II, the reactor was the nation’s principal source of radioisotopes for academic, scientific, medical and industrial use, and supported research in many fields of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering.