The University of Michigan plans to renovate nuclear research labs

Sep 17, 2013

The University of Michigan is almost finished decommissioning its nuclear reactor. The process began ten years ago. But there are new plans in the works to renovate the building.

According to MLive, the University wants to create research labs, testing areas, offices and academic support spaces in the building. The 17,400-square-foot building would get a 5,200-square-foot addition and would be renamed as the Nuclear Engineering Laboratories. It's on North Campus on Bonisteel Dr. 

The University of Michigan Board of Regents will vote on the proposed plans at 3 pm on Thursday. 

The Ford Nuclear Reactor at the University of Michigan was built in 1955. It was funded by a donation from the Ford Motor Company, and its purpose was to develop peaceful ways to use nuclear energy.

In its heyday, the 28-foot-deep reactor was used by academic researchers from U-M and beyond for experiments that required irradiation. Although primarily used by researchers in engineering, scientists in fields like archeology and geology used the reactor to date samples.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001,  U-M gave tours of the reactor, which emanated a deep blue glow. 

MLive reported in 2012 that Michigan's nuclear engineering program was ranked first in the nation. 

Two years earlier, the University of Michigan's nuclear energy program received $4.3 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy. The fund was given to the University to research innovative and new ways to use nuclear energy. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom