| December 1951|
On December 20, 1951, the first usable electricity from nuclear energy was produced at the National Reactor Testing Station, later called the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL), in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The electricity lit four light bulbs strung across a railing in the turbine room of the Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I).
The first reactor project approved by the Atomic Energy Commission, EBR-I was the brainchild of Walter Zinn, head of Argonne National Laboratory. In 1953, EBR-I scientists showed a reactor could create more fuel than it used; that is, the reactor could "breed" fuel as it created electricity. EBR-I operated as a research reactor until 1963, when EBR-II took over. EBR-II is now a historical monument.