Chicago Pile-1 was the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor. First human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1. Secret development of the reactor was the first major technical achievement for the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to create atomic bombs during World War II.
About Chicago Pile-1 in brief
Chicago Pile-1 was the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor. On 2 December 1942, the first human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1, during an experiment led by Enrico Fermi. The secret development of the reactor was the first major technical achievement for the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to create atomic bombs during World War II. The reactor contained 45,000 ultra-pure graphite blocks weighing 360 short tons, and was fueled by 5. 4 short tons of uranium metal and 45 short tons of uranium oxide. Unlike most subsequent nuclear reactors, it had no radiation shielding or cooling system as it operated at very low power – about one-half watt. The stands at Stagg Field were demolished in August 1957; the site is now a National Historic Landmark and a Chicago Landmark. The successful use of graphite as a moderator paved the way for progress in the Allied efforts, whereas the German program languished partly because of the belief that scarce and expensive heavy water would have to be used for that purpose. The pursuit for a reactor had been touched off by concern that Nazi Germany had a substantial scientific lead. The concept of a nuclear chain Reaction was first hypothesized by the Hungarian scientist Leo Szilard on 12 September 1933. In order for a chain reaction to occur, fissioning uranium atoms had to emit additional neutrons to keep the reaction going. The success of Chicago P pile-1 provided the first vivid demonstration of the feasibility of the military use of nuclear energy by the Allies.
It was moved to Red Gate Woods in 1943, and reconfigured to become Chicago Ple-2 in 1954. There, it was operated for research until 1954, when it was dismantled and buried. The nuclear reactor used natural uranium, which required a very large amount of material in order to reach criticality, along with graphite used as a neutron moderator. It is believed that enormous quantities of uranium would be required for an atomic bomb, and therefore concentrated on producing a controlled chain reaction. The idea of a chemical chain reacted was first suggested in 1913 by the German chemist Max Bodenstein for a situation in which two molecules react to form not just the final reaction products, but also some unstable molecules that can further react with the original substances to cause more to react. The discovery of nuclear fission by German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann in 1938, and its theoretical explanation by their collaborators Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch, opened up the possibility of creating a nuclear reaction with uranium, but initial experiments were unsuccessful. In 1939, American physicist, Enrici Ferm i, with Americans John Dunning, Herbert L. Anderson, Eugene T. Booth, G. Norris Glasoe, and Francis G. Slack conducted the first nuclear fissions experiment in the United States on 25 January 1939. They discovered that fast neutrons were indeed produced by fission. They obtained permission from the head of the Physics Department of the University of Columbia to use a laboratory for three months.