Nuclear: the need for radical innovation
Abstract: The nuclear industry, as presently configured, is inherently dis-advantaged with respect to most other industrial sectors: it relies on large and costly machines, delivered by an inefficient construction sector, requiring a lengthy safety-driven licensing process, and producing grid-connected electrons (a near-zero-margin commodity). If advanced nuclear is to thrive in the 21st century, its development, demonstration and deployment paradigm must be completely reversed. Nuclear energy systems must become small and factory-fabricated, with inherent safety features that allow for rapid and efficient licensing, and possibly supplying energy products that command a high added value in the market. In this talk we will focus on (1) Small Modular Reactors (a <300 MW-class nuclear systems that could replace existing coal, NG and larger nuclear plants, as well as cogenerating heat and electricity for industry), and (2) Nuclear Batteries (a <10 MW-class nuclear systems that fit within a standard shipping container, are ready for plug-and-play deployment and require no refueling for 3-5 years). The opportunities afforded by these new technologies are potentially massive in markets as diverse as power, district heating, water desalination, containerized agriculture and pharmaceutical production, mobile manufacturing, ship propulsion, synfuel production, etc.
Bio: Jacopo Buongiorno is the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Director of Science and Technology of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. He teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in thermo-fluids engineering and nuclear reactor engineering. Jacopo has published 90 journal articles in the areas of reactor safety and design, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and nanofluid technology. For his research work and his teaching at MIT he won several awards, among which the ANS Outstanding Teacher Award (2019), the MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellowship (2014), the ANS Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award (2011), the ASME Heat Transfer Best Paper Award (2008), and the ANS Mark Mills Award (2001). Jacopo is the Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). In 2016-2018 he led the MIT study on the Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World. Jacopo is a consultant for the nuclear industry in the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, and a member of the Accrediting Board of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. He is also a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Space Working Group, a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (including service on its Special Committee on Fukushima in 2011-2012), a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, past member of the Naval Studies Board (2017-2019), and a participant in the Defense Science Study Group (2014-2015).