Start-up: Transatomic Power Wants to Build a Better Reactor

Its “walk-away safe” nuclear reactor would run on spent fuel

3 min read
Start-up: Transatomic Power Wants to Build a Better Reactor
The Salt Solution: In Transatomic Power’s reactor, molten salt containing radioactive material would circulate inside a reactor vessel (1). The heat generated by the self-sustaining nuclear fission reaction would be transferred to circulating water (2), which would boil into steam (3) to power a turbine. Valves made of frozen salt (4) beneath the reactor vessel would be kept solid and closed by an electrical system. In the event of a power outage, the valves would melt, allowing the molten salt to drain into a wide tank (5), where the fission reaction would naturally come to a halt.
Illustration: Emily Cooper

It’s pretty straightforward to get some coders together in a spare room to create a software start-up. Should a nascent company have hardware inclinations, it might set out to make a consumer electronics gadget with an assist from Kickstarter. And then there’s Transatomic Power Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which is trying to build a nuclear reactor.

Cofounders Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie began dreaming up the idea in 2010, while working on their Ph.D.s in nuclear engineering at MIT. “We realized this is probably the smartest we will ever be in our lives,” Dewan remembers. So the two decided to use their knowledge to design a better reactor, one that deals with what they see as the nuclear industry’s biggest problems: waste and safety.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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