Nuclear power had a rather interesting start. Here are some facts about how it all began:
- Enrico Fermi created the first nuclear reactor at the University of Chicago.
- The reactor was part of the Manhattan Project, a program to develop nuclear bombs.
- The reactor was not, however, the first in the world. It was the first reactor to achieve criticality.
- The reactor was actually constructed in a squash court, under the stands at Stagg Field.
Nuclear power was (and still is) a huge phenomenon. Here’s how it works:
- Neutrons are particles without electrical charge.
- When the control rods are raised, a free neutron splits the nucleus, which releases large amounts of kinetic energy, heat, and gamma radiation.
- A number of neutrons are also released into the reactor dome.
- These neutrons can go and split other atoms in the “environment”.
- All the heat energy released by the nuclear reaction is used to heat water, which creates steam, which drives a turbine, which generates electricity.
- Most of our nuclear reactors are fission reactors.
- A fission reactor splits the atoms.
- Fusion technology, on the other hand, is fusing the atoms, which is way more efficient, and more power can be generated. However, the few experimental reactors are not efficient enough, and more electricity is used than generated.
- The sun uses fusion.