Floating, Offshore Nuclear Plant Design Could Withstand Earthquakes and Tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, the aftereffects - specifically, the lack of cooling for the reactor cores and spent fuel due to a shutdown of outside power - caused most of the harm. Jacopo Buongiorno, associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, is leading a team of researchers in designing nuclear plants built on floating platforms modeled after those used for offshore drilling. These floating plants could help avoid such consequences in the future. They would be designed to be automatically flooded by the surrounding seawater in a worst-case scenario, providing sufficient cooling to indefinitely prevent any melting of fuel rods, or escape of radioactive material.