Kodak's Nuclear Reactor

This nuclear reactor was setup with weapons grade uranium during the cold war to make it more convenient for Kodak to generate neutrons on demand. Also, I'm secretly Elvis.

So Kodak had a nuclear reactor in the basement  of one of the buildings on Lake Avenue, eh? I’ll give them this much, they did a great job keeping it quiet. I never heard a whisper about a rumor of anything of the sort. Pretty impressive.

That said – am I really supposed to believe it was just for their own regular ol’ research purposes? The D&C Article today claimed:

Starting decades ago, Kodak had an interest in neutrons, subatomic particles that can be used to determine the makeup of a given material or to create an image of it without damaging it.

A steady stream of neutrons is needed for these purposes. Kodak used small research reactors, including one at Cornell University, and possessed a dollop of californium-252, a radioactive isotope that endlessly sheds neutrons.

But it wanted a more potent in-house system, so in 1974 it acquired a californium neutron flux multiplier, known as a CFX. Small plates of highly enriched uranium multiplied the neutron flow from a tiny californium core.

Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, Filo said. It also was used for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique.

…right. They managed to get their hands on 3.5 pounds of weapons grade uranium in the middle of the cold war, just because creating a steady stream of neutrons for photographic research was a real pain the rear?

Kodak has a long relationship with the government making everything from WWII bomb sights and scopes to aerial reconciliation equipment and film. Frankly, I’m glad the government is smart enough to mobilize the private sector to do the things they’re not good at. I’m just not ready to buy that a nuclear reactor with weapons grade uranium was set up in a special basement during the cold war and it was just for innocuous Kodak research.