On December 18, 1957, the United States produced its first nuclear-powered electrical current. 

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Shipping Port Atomic Power Station was the first power station to use nuclear power for dedicated peacetime use. The SAP station was situated near Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania. 

Although the atomic core reached criticality on December 02, 1957, the actual electricity production was done on December 18, the same year. The plant could share its electrical output after engineers synchronized the plant’s system with the distribution grid owned by the Duquesne light Company.

The Reactor Designs

The plant’s first reactor core used highly enriched Uranium as seed fuel. To keep the seed sealed in, the engineers used natural U-238 to blanket the surface of the seed. This design is called seed-and-blanket design. The second core featured a larger seed meaning it could produce more power. The downside to the bigger nuclear seed is the core could only do a few cycles before stopping for a recharge. The third core was a whole different design and was considered an experimental core.

The engineers built a light-water moderated thermal breeder reactor. The seed and blanket design was used to cover a Uranium-233 seed. The blanket was made of Thorium. The breeder reactor was designed to turn Thorium Uranium-233 as a part of the fuel cycle. Before it was closed down in1982, the plant completed 80,324 operational hours and produced 7.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Critiques argued that the plant cost more than it benefited the American citizen.