Nuclear waste

Nuclear waste: Working for us, not against us

Photography: Getty Images

Instead of burying waste for the next 100,000 years, this 21-year-old is turning it into electricity.

The Red Bulletin presents Game Changers. The people, things and ideas that will change  our lives in 2016.

Taylor Wilson

Taylor Wilson built a small-scale nuclear-fusion reactor.

© Wikimedia Commons

 

There’s one thing we know for sure: Doc Brown was wrong—you can’t travel through time with radioactive plutonium. Which is a shame. But we can still use deadly radioactive material to save the world, as three young geniuses have proved. 

Taylor Wilson, now 21, built a small-scale nuclear-fusion reactor in his parents’ garage when he was 14. He has since been tinkering with plans for nuclear- fission power stations, which would solve the problem of radioactive waste rather than contribute to it.

© TED // YouTube

Two MIT graduates, Leslie Dewan, 31, and Mark Massie, 29, are forging similar plans. They too have designed a next-generation nuclear reactor—on paper, at least. 

All three want to solve one of humanity’s most pressing problems. Dewan and Massie’s molten-salt reactors could use the highly radioactive waste from regular nuclear power stations as a source of energy to produce electricity with an efficiency level of 98 percent.

And if that doesn’t work, we’ll be dusting off Doc Brown’s time machine again.

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01 2016 The Red Bulletin 

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