#askMIT: What Does the Future of Nuclear Science Look Like?

2 minutes

Hi, I'm Noah from Missouri. Can you show what nuclear energy will look like in the future? Hi. I'm Sarah, a senior reactor operator here at the MIT research reactor. I'm also a nuclear engineer, and I'm here to tell you about the future of nuclear energy. At the MIT research reactor, we do research on new technologies that could be used in nuclear energy. We're here in the control room of the reactor, where we monitor the temperature, the reactor power level, and other parameters to make sure everything's running smoothly. The physics going on inside the reactor core, no matter what reactor you have, is that there are atoms that make up the fuel, and these atoms, we bombard with neutrons, and then they are unstable and split apart. When an atom splits apart, it releases a lot of energy in the form of heat. Heat is used to make electricity you use at home. The goal of nuclear engineering research is to take heat energy released from splitting atoms to make electricity, rather than using natural gas or coal, which are not as clean. We don't do experiments on the reactor. We use the reactor to test materials. New materials that we test here could be used to build safer reactors in the future. We may have reactors on land or floating in the ocean. We could have reactors that are like batteries, sitting on every street corner. Even though we have different technologies to build safer, stronger, nuclear reactors, we're not building them right now because they're very expensive. But as the price of natural gas goes up, we may be relying more on nuclear energy for electricity. Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.


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Sarah Don, a graduate student in Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, answers the question, "What does the future of nuclear science look like?" Part of the "#askMIT" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 2 minutes

#askMIT
Episode 1
3 minutes
Grade Level: 8 - 12
#askMIT
Episode 2
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
#askMIT
Episode 3
2 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12