Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Enrico Fermi was responsible
for the fi rst controlled chain
reaction. Fermi was born in
Rome, Italy, in 1901. He became
a physics professor at the
University of Rome at the age
of 26. In 1938, he won the
Nobel Prize—which is awarded
each year for achievements in
different branches of science
and other areas—for his work
on radioactivity and nuclear
reactions involving neutrons.
That same year, he moved to the
United States.
During World War II, the
U.S. government began a secret
program called the Manhattan
Project to develop the atomic
bomb. Fermi played an important
role in the program. As part
of the project, the world's fi rst
controlled fi ssion chain reaction
took place in a reactor. Fermi headed the effort to achieve the chain
reaction, which occurred on December 2, 1942. Fermi died of
cancer in 1954. The element fermium was named in his honor.
A secret U.S. government program developed the
atomic bomb. Two such bombs were dropped on
Japan in 1945, near the end of World War II.
structure is typically made of concrete and steel. Its walls may
be 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) thick. If an accident occurs in the
reactor, the containment structure helps keep radioactivity from
escaping into the environment.
Pressurized water reactors have two water systems. One
pumps water through the reactor core under high pressure,
to keep the water from boiling. The l owing water acts as a
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