The Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Research (CANES) hosted a symposium, titled "Nuclear Energy in 2050," to mark its 10th anniversary and to celebrate MIT’s sesquicentennial. The two-day symposium, chaired by Center Director and Professor Mujid Kazimi, brought together more than 55 leaders from academia, industry, government and the national laboratories to discuss important issues concerned with the development of nuclear power in the upcoming decades. For the 40 students who attended, the symposium provided the perfect opportunity to hear from and interact with experts in the field.
Professor Richard Lester, head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, kicked off the symposium with an assessment of nuclear leadership challenges in the wake of the crisis in Japan. Lester called for a thorough and transparent investigation of the accident by an independent international commission. Topics considered over the two days included advances in nuclear fuels, small reactor concepts, the nuclear fuel cycle, and the role of modeling and simulation in research and development. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner George Apostolakis, currently on leave from MIT, presented ideas assembled by an internal task force to revise the licensing process for new reactors using risk assessment models.
The highlight of the symposium was a special session, "Lessons from Fukushima," devoted to discussion of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. Industry consultant Dr. Lake Barrett provided points of comparison with the accident at Three Mile Island (TMI). Barrett spoke about how the earlier accident was managed and investigated and how it can inform us on the developing situation in Fukushima. Professor Jacopo Buongiorno identified possible design, regulatory and operational solutions to safety-related issues. Buongiorno presented these as a starting point for debate and deliberation as the nuclear industry considers actions for the future in response to the Fukushima events.