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Taylor Wilson, Teenage Nuclear Scientist, Redesigns Nuclear Power

Not satisfied with being the youngest person to ever build a working fusion reactor, the 18-year-old now has plans for a modular nuclear power plant. He graduates high school in May.

Taylor Wilson, the teenager who built a working nuclear fusion reactor, started thinking about fission—he is a teenage boy after all. "Is fission played out?" he wondered. "Or is there something left to innovate here?"

It turns out there is a lot to innovate there, and today at TED Wilson showed off a design for a small, modular nuclear fission reactor that could be built on a factory assembly line and installed anywhere in the world. Granted, it's little more than a diagram at this stage—but he's graduating high school in May.

These power plants are not only smaller and more efficient than existing reactors, but could use cold war-era decommissioned, down-blended nuclear weaponry as source material.

The reactors are intended to be 50-100 MW, which would power somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 homes. They would be between 10% and 15% more efficient than existing nuke plants, in part because they don't use water. The heat exchange takes place in a molten salt core that is buried underground (which also makes it more secure).

Wilson thinks these are safe enough to install in a developing nation without easy access to power, and secure enough that no one would be able to access the dangerous material from within.

The reactor could also be put onto a spacecraft and provide power on another planet.

Are these merely the over-excited dreams of a high school senior? We may find out sooner than later: Wilson says that after graduation he intends to start a company and start building one of these reactors.

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  • Harry Garne

     Memo Loco, here here!  My group of former USAF biomed med techs agree.  How many outstanding, creative, amazing new ideas do you think have been pigeon holed to the benefit of the global petroleum industry.  Energy innovations run the risk of rendering the oil cartels' infrastructure obsolete.  How may Taylor Wilsons do you think have faded into obsurity?  This young man inspires me and I'm so old that I was around during the Stone Age... you know, before they had bullets.  In today's modern world it's not innovation that bangs the drum - $$$ is.  Good luck Tyler.  We're with you brother.

  • Memo Loco

    I hope the big oil company controlling the govt
    doesn't kill him. I'm from Chile and an actual working
    product would be helping eliminating the polution there.

  • Lickety Split

    I don't care if it's someone else's design or how long the technology has been around. The important thing here is that here is someone exposing me to it, who has passion, vision and goals.  Along with his age, this little video has given me so much hope for the future and I will be following Taylor Wilson and hopefully investing in his projects.

  • BringBackTheFlex

    Where did he say he invented Molten Salt Reactors?  He said he built a fusion reactor and thinks a new design could make it more production worthy.

  • Nickylyons

    Arrogant and callow.  MSRs, underground SMRs, Brayton cycle--all of these are other people's ideas that have been developed for many years.  Taylor needs some lessons in crediting those who have gone before and then putting forward what his improvement is.  There is nothing new here.

  • Daniel Carles

    For heaven sakes, Taylor is a brave young mind, taking ideas and concepts from other great minds and doing something about it.  Some of the above replies are limited to nagging and pointless comments disputing the original idea(s). It really doesn't matter who invented/created what or when. The important point here is that a 19 year old man is sharing and showing his ideas of how to build a reactor to resolve a fundamental problem of mankind self preservation.  Instead he is getting criticized, probably by under cover energy cartel saboteurs  : )

  • William Vaughn

    I hope Taylor is aware that the Molten Salt Reactor concept has been around since the 60's.  And current designs, such as LFTR (Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors) can do MUCH better than a 15% improvement in efficiently. LFTR's can use 99% of their available fuel as opposed to LWRs 1% (without reprocessing). And I would advise Taylor to concentrate on using Thorium as a fuel for his designs; its more plentiful and "burns" almost completely.

    And Taylor should work on an advanced degree in chemistry or nuclear engineering.  Those skills will be golden for the nuclear development needed for the next several decades. Specialize in fluoride chemistry and companies will be coming to YOUR door.

    But a question:  In what sense was that fusion reactor a "working" design?

  • Sean Simpson

    I think what is different, is the modular, under ground, cheaper, safer, and yes he did mention Thorium.

  • Pablo Carranza

    first of all, what is your definition of a "working Fusion Reactor"? come on guys be more serious...

  • JB Smith

    Molten Salt Reactors are not a new idea, and while this young man may be raising a good point, this is not his original idea.