Nuclear Energy


Meeting the world's demand for electricity over the next several decades while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires a significant focus on power generation that is both emissions-free and capable of providing power at the terawatt scale by mid-century. Expanded use of nuclear power is an obvious option for satisfying these criteria.

Currently, nuclear power plants provide 7 percent of the world's commercial energy and more than 15 percent of its electricity. A variety of barriers must be overcome, however, if we are to realize the potential of nuclear power to produce vast amounts of carbon-free electricity. These barriers include reducing the cost of building and operating safe nuclear plants, managing and disposing of high-level radioactive waste, reducing proliferation risks and improving public acceptance.

Roadblocks to nuclear power are substantial but also present research opportunities in areas such as new plant design, plant life extension, modular and proliferation-resistant reactors and novel approaches to nuclear waste such as deep borehole disposal. However, research and technology development alone are not sufficient to enable large-scale deployment of incremental nuclear power. Significant and coordinated technically informed policy analysis to address nuclear waste management, nuclear proliferation concerns and public resistance to nuclear power is a prerequisite to realizing its potential to meet growing energy demand and mitigate climate change.

News

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

New power plant design could provide enhanced safety, easier siting, and centralized construction.

April 16, 2014Read more
In major extension of MIT nuclear policy studies, Gavin begins work as first  
Frank Stanton Chair

In major extension of MIT nuclear policy studies, Gavin begins work as first Frank Stanton Chair

Historian will facilitate collaboration among political scientists, historians, and policymakers

February 18, 2014Read more
MIT fusion experiment benefits from budget deal, but more uncertainty looms

MIT fusion experiment benefits from budget deal, but more uncertainty looms

The Alcator C-Mod experiment, previously slated to shut down because of a cut in funding, received an unexpected $22 million in the budget released by Congress.

January 16, 2014Read more
New waterproof surface is 'driest ever'

New waterproof surface is 'driest ever'

US engineers have created the "most waterproof material ever" - inspired by nasturtium leaves and butterfly wings.

November 26, 2013Read more

Videos

Innovation Waves Towards Energy Security

Innovation Waves Towards Energy Security

Richard K. Lester, MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

April 11, 2012

06:45 Read more
The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants

The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants

Thomas A. Christopher

November 5, 2007

1:31:27 Read more
The Future of Nuclear Power

The Future of Nuclear Power

Richard Meserve, President, Carnegie Institution for Science

February 19, 2013

1:08:26 Read more