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This film, presented by Dr David Blackburn of the Open University, shows the various stages necessary in the development of a major piece of technological discovery to commercial viability. To illu...strate the purpose of each stage an example is drawn from the British Nuclear Energy programme - research by the work being carried out at Culham Laboratories on the fusion process - the prototype and pilot stages by the fast reactor process at Dounreay, and the commercial plant by the Oldbury advanced gas-cooled reactor. Additional aims of the programme are to give ideas of the aims and justification for technological forecasting and the time scale involved.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: T100, The man-made world: a foundation course
Item code: T100; 05
First transmission date: 13-02-1972
Published: 1972
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:00
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Producer: David Nelson
Contributor: David Blackburn
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): British Nuclear Energy; Commercial viability; Dounreay fast reactor; Fusion process; Oldbury gas-cooled reactor; Product development; Technological forecasting
Footage description: This programme is an introduction to nuclear energy production. Future of thermonuclear controlled reaction is briefly taken up. Several shots of different types of reactors and stations. The programme examines the various stages of development through which a reactor passes, including the commercial stage. Commercial stage of nuclear produced energy examined first, using the advanced gas cold reactor at Aldbury as an example Shot of the Albury reactor. Diagrams are used to show details of reactors of this type. Improvements at the commercial stage are discussed. These consisted mainly of using steel cable reinforced concrete walls to hold the reactor. Shots of the improved reactor at various stages of construction. Emphasis is on shots of the steel cable installation. Prototype stage of reactor development examined next. Shots of the Dounreay reactor in Scotland. Blackburn sketches diagrams of ordinary and breeder type reactor in the sand on the beach near Dounreay. Principles of the breeder reactor explained with the aid of these diagrams. Shots of the reactor vessel for a breeder type reactor. Commentary examines the reasons for building prototype reactors. Some of the design problems which were encountered in the prototype are pointed out by Peter Mummery, director of Dounreay Experimental Reactor Establishment. He explains that reliability, performance, costs, etc., are all tested in the prototype before commercial production and installation. The pilot plant at Dounreay is examined next. Function of pilot reactors discussed. Commentary examines some of the concepts which need to be tested - controllability of reaction suitability of fuels, properties of the liquid sodium coolant. A problem which arose with the sodium coolant discussed. The method used to trace a serious leak in the cooling system is shown and discussed. Explosive properties of sodium in Water are demonstrated as an illustration of the sort of forces the cooling system has to accommodate. Shots of the inside of the pilot breeder reactor. Uses of pilot plants are summarised. Experimental stage of reactor development examined. Shot of Cullen Laboratories. Principles of nuclear fusion are discussed in the commentary. Problems of controlling a nuclear fusion reaction are examined. Containment of hot plasma in the reactor taken up. Dr. Robinson uses a model to demonstrate his approach - magnetic fields around and through the plasma to compress and controll it. Dr. Robinson goes over an experimental machine at Cullen to show how his method is tested. Dr. Robinson discusses some of the problems which have arisen to date in attempts to control the hot plasma. The advantages of controlled fusion as a source of commercial power are discussed.
Master spool number: 6LT/70508
Production number: 00521_2511
Videofinder number: 2149
Available to public: no