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Nuclear power and reactors

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CNN

Senior Lecturer John Parsons speaks with CNN reporters Angela Dewan, Ella Nilsen and Lou Robinson about the future of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) – nuclear technology that is smaller and less costly to build than traditional, large-scale reactors. “The target here is to produce electricity cheaper than coal and gas plants,” says Parsons. These fossil fuel plants “are terribly simple and cheap to run – they’re just dirty.”

Popular Mechanics

MIT researchers are hoping to use Dyson maps “to translate the language of classical physics into terms that a quantum computer—a machine designed to solve complex quandaries by leveraging the unique properties of quantum particles—can understand,” reports Darren Orf for Popular Mechanics. 

Scientific American

Commonwealth Fusion Systems, MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and others are working to build SPARC, a prototype device that aims to extract net energy from plasma and generate fusion power, reports Philip Ball for Scientific American. “SPARC will be a midsize tokamak in which the plasma is tightly confined by very intense magnetic fields produced by new high-temperature superconducting magnets developed at MIT and unveiled in 2021.”  

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Emeritus Ernest Moniz writes that the National Ignition Facility’s fusion energy advancement “is exciting because when the journey from science demonstration to a commercially viable power plant is completed, the electricity grid will be revolutionized.” Moniz continues, “To meet widely accepted climate objectives, we must double the clock speed of the clean energy innovation process.”

Forbes

Forbes has named Commonwealth Fusion Systems one of the biggest tech innovations and breakthroughs of 2022, reports Bernard Marr. “Commonwealth Fusion Systems is now working with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center on plans to build a factory that can mass-produce components for the first commercial fusion reactors,” writes Marr.

The Boston Globe

Prof. Dennis Whyte, director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, discusses the significance of nuclear fusion energy with Boston Globe reporter David Abel following news that an advance had been made in the development of nuclear fusion. “It’s very exciting, but we’re not all the way there,” Whyte said. “I will be really excited when we put the first watts on the grid.”

USA Today

Prof. Dennis Whyte, director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, speaks with USA Today about the promise and challenges posed by nuclear fusion energy, in light of an announcement that scientists have crossed a milestone in their efforts to develop fusion energy. Whyte explains that, in theory, fusion could "replace all carbon-based energy sources, because it's scalable in a way that means it can actually power civilization.”

Newsweek

Nuclear science experts say that the potential shut down of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine can lead to energy implications and climate change, reports Anna Skinner for Newsweek. "The Earth is heating up, and we don't have any way to stop it right now except to stop putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," says Prof. Michael Golay. "The nice thing about nuclear is it doesn't emit much in the way of greenhouse gases."

Newsweek

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT spinout, has signed an agreement with the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to “support the fastest path to clean commercial fusion energy,” reports Ed Browne for Newsweek. “CFS says its agreement with UKAEA could involve exchanges of knowledge and collaboration on things like fuel, modeling, manufacturing and maintenance,” writes Browne. 

Power Magazine

Infinite Cooling, an MIT startup, is developing a new system that can capture water from cooling tower plumes and could significantly reduce water consumption in evaporative cooling tower systems, reports Sonal Patel for Power Magazine. “The technology that is developed could lead to significant water savings and improve water quality with minimal energy cost,” explained members of Prof. Kripa Varanasi’s lab.

Popular Mechanics

Researchers from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) are working on making commercial nuclear fusion a reality, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “CFS will build [the tokamak] SPARC and develop a commercial fusion product, while MIT PSFC will focus on its core mission of cutting-edge research and education,” says Prof. Dennis G. Whyte, director of the PSFC. 

ABC News

ABC News reporter Mary Kekatos speaks with Prof. Kate Brown about concerns surrounding Russian troops’ recent seizure of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. “Conventional war and nuclear power are not a good combination,” says Brown. “Nuclear power requires security, stability and peace. It’s a tall order.”

New York Times

New York Times reporter William J. Broad speaks with Prof. R. Scott Kemp about the safety risks associated with the nuclear power plants in northern Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. “There’s some risk of a direct hit,” said Kemp. “But I imagine they’ll do everything possible to avoid that because they don’t want to deal with the fallout.” 

The Verge

Prof. Kate Brown speaks with Verge reporter Justine Calma about the potential implications of fighting in the containment zone around Chernobyl. “It’s a continuing problem,” Brown says. “It’s supposed to be contained. It’s supposed to be left untouched. And that’s the problem with any kind of nuclear site. It demands stability and peace.”