The nuclear age began in Germany, in the 1930s in the lab of chemist Otto Hahn. Hahn was attempting to produce radium (In great need during the war) by bombarding
uranium atoms with neutrons. To his surprise, he ended up with a much lighter element,
That was 1938, This started the race for the power of the atom. Just four years later
Canada entered nuclear age in cooperation with the british.
Wartime, 1942: The British wanted a safe place to conduct nuclear experiments; Since
their country feared invasion by the nazi's or bombing attacks, Canada provided the haven
the british needed in return for a opportunity to work in the project.
The leader of the team that crossed the atlantic to Canada was Hans von Halban, who
along with Dr. Lew Kowarski had escaped from the Institute Du Radium in Paris one step
ahead of the invading german army. They took the world supply of 200 Kg of heavy
water with them to Canada.
Having pioneered the chain reaction using uranium and heavy water, the scientists
applied their knowledge and their heavy water to the new Canadian nuclear industry.
On September 5th, 1945 near Ottawa the team started up the first operating nuclear
reactor outside the USA. Of course, the output was minuscule, but the significance was
immense; the principal of getting energy from splitting atoms in a controlled chain
reaction (fission) was established beyond doubt. It was now the job of the scientists and
engineers to put it to a practical use.
A nuclear reactor is a device which produces heat. In a nuclear power station, the
reactor performs the same function as a boiler in a
conventional coal, gas or oil-fired station. Whether from a conventional
boiler or a nuclear reactor, heat is required to turn water into steam. The steam is used to
spin large turbines which in turn drive generators that produce electricity. A reactor
creates heat by splitting uranium atoms. This is calle...