Vintage Cutaways Show the Nuclear Reactors of Our Past (and Present)

Wall-art-worthy cutaways of European, American, and Asian nuclear reactors

The University of New Mexico discovered a treasure trove of old cutaway schematics of nuclear reactors, dating back as much as 50 years, in the pages of Nuclear Engineering International. If you’re interested in nuclear power (or how stuff works) and are looking for some art to hang on your walls, we’ve got you covered.

Click to launch the photo gallery.

These reactors were built between around 1960 and 1980, typically, and they’ve gone through some pretty amazing stuff. Some of them are still in use today, one of them is responsible for the worst nuclear accident in its nation’s history, and some of them were shut down in the ensuing decades. You can check out the entire UNM archive here, if you’re so inclined, or check out our gallery.

[BibliOdyssey via Boing Boing]

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Douglas Point

Maryland’s Douglas Point reactor, a boiling water reactor designed by General Electric. It became fully operational in March, 1982, though this schematic dates from 1973. Full image here.


The epically-named and -logoed Dragon reactor hails from Dorset, England. This illustration dates from 1960. Full image here.


The Dungeness plant, located in Kent, England, is a gas-cooled reactor dating back to the mid-’60s. It has nothing to do with delicious crustaceans. Full image here.


Hailing from Lancaster County in southeastern Pennsylvania, this plant opened up in 1981. Full image here.


The Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant in Switzerland is actually still operational today. It began operating in 1979. Full image here.


China’s Guangdong plant lies in Daya Bay, and began operation in 1993. Full image here.


The Windscale reactor, in Cumberland, England, would eventually be responsible for the worst nuclear accident in England’s history. But its schematic is nice and brightly colored. Full image here.


The Wylfa reactor, in North Wales, benefits from the cooling effect of the wind in its remote coastal location. It became operational in 1971 and is currently the only working nuclear plant in Wales. Full image here.