Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor

Aug 2, 2019

The wilds of Washington County near Strickler are home to an unusual facility: a decommissioned nuclear reactor.

The Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor, or SEFOR, was completed in 1969 to test whether breeder reactors, which use fast neutrons to create more fuel than they consume, could be used to produce electricity. Though it never achieved that purpose, SEFOR did show that plutonium could be used as reactor fuel instead of uranium.

SEFOR was used for experiments until 1972 and the University of Arkansas acquired it in 1975, using it as a research facility until 1986.

The experiments conducted at SEFOR provided information that has since been used at breeder reactors around the world.

The former reactor sat vacant for decades until the University received a ten point five million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to dismantle it in 2016. In April 2019 it was announced that the decontamination of the site was complete.

To learn more, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.