Bringing a reactor from subcritical (offline) to supercritical is called a “pulse.” A reactor may produce around 4 megawats of power in its steady state mode, but during maximum pulse, the reactor can generate 35,000 megawatts. The pulse itself begins and ends in roughly 7 milliseconds. For that very short time, the reactor may produce 3 times the power of the United States’ largest reactor.

The pulse mode is also what operates in a nuclear weapon during the fraction of a second between releasing energy and exploding.

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