US teen designs compact nuclear reactor


LONG BEACH, California– Eighteen-year-old Taylor Wilson has designed a compact nuclear reactor that could one day burn waste from old atomic weapons to power anything from homes and factories to space colonies.

The American teen, who gained fame four years ago after designing a fusion reactor he planned to build in the garage of his family’s home, shared his latest endeavor at a TED Conference in southern California on Thursday.

“It’s about bringing something old, fission, into the 21st Century,” Wilson said. “I think this has huge potential to change the world.”

He has designed a small reactor capable of generating 50-100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power as many as 100,000 homes.

The reactor can be made assembly-line style and powered by molten radioactive material from nuclear weapons, Wilson said. The relatively small, modular reactor can be shipped sealed with enough fuel to last for 30 years.

“You can plop them down anywhere in the world and they work, buried under the ground for security reasons,” he said, while detailing his design at TED.

“In the Cold War we built up this huge arsenal of nuclear weapons and we don’t need them anymore,” Wilson said. “It would be great if we could eat them up, and this reactor loves this stuff.”

His reactors are designed to spin turbines using gas instead of steam, meaning they operate at temperatures lower than those of typical nuclear reactors and don’t spew anything if there is a breach.

The fuel is in the form of molten salt, and the reactors don’t need to be pressurized, according to the teenager.

“In the event of an accident, you can just drain the core into a tank under the reactor with neutron absorbers and the reaction stops,” Wilson said.

“There is no inclination for the fission products to leave this reactor,” he said. “In an accident, the reactor may be toast, which is sorry for the power company, but there is no problem.”

Wilson, who graduated grade school in May, said he is putting off university to focus on a company he created to make Modular Fission Reactors.

He sees his competition as nations, particularly China, and the roadblocks ahead as political instead of technical.

Wilson planned to have a prototype ready in two years and a product to market in five years.

“Not only does it combat climate change, it can bring power to the developing world,” Wilson said with teenage optimism.

“Imagine having a compact reactor in a rocket designed by those planning to habitat other planets. Not only would you have power for propulsion, but power once you get there.”

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • dexter ngayan

    eto na ang future STARK industry!

  • hopeless_na

    Very interesting.

  • Fulpol

    I bet, he loved Jimmy Neutron when he still a kid…

  • Pulokoy

    Tony Stark is that you ?

  • Fulpol

    China will buy the rights… how much? name your price…

  • J

    This news article about a great mind kid while the other news a NY man chopped his mother to death… american extremes!

  • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

    I just hope there is more of these kinds of news than otherwise. Frankly, if you read broadsheets in the country, there are more sensational ‘bad’ news than these inspiring breakthroughs, simply because people buy such ‘newsworthy’ stories.


  • bogli_anakdami

    sana merong second hand/used reactor… flip gung gongs would import ‘sang tambaks to sell to unsuspecting flip tunggaks…

  • ThudOthwacker

    That’s good news. We can independently produce our own electricity. We will be free from the opportunistic manipulated electric company.

  • WeAry_Bat

    What a security headache.  With these gadgets around, terrorists need not make a nuclear explosion but just attach explosives to a few vehicles carrying them. 

    After the chemical explosion to scatter them, then the wind, people and vehicle movements would spread the the radioactive contamination.  Just four for the corners of the city would bring instant economic downfall. 

    Another reason to make a backup city for Manila.

  • adriel0104

    china is salivating to copy/steal these product!

  • ramelatilano

    sana naman sa pilipinas may inventions din na ganyan…with economic, military value…ma utilize ang excess water natin during rainfall o bagyo…di ba sayang….o kaya yung mga deposits sa ilalim ng dagat….ganyan dapat ang inaatupag ng mga matatalinong estudyante hindi yung puro rally iba naman ang nag bebenifit

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    Paano naman ang dispose sa nuclear waste? ang laking problema nyan.

    • Dancing Bear

       Dump it in China.

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        ok +1000 in your suggestion..

    • Serom

      read again the article

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        I watch his TED video and read his stories matagal na…so I know he’s really a genius no question about that..
        but designing something and creating a business out of it is totally a whole new ballgame….and actual prototype is still 2 to 5 yrs away.

        I’ve also seen and read the nightmare scenario of disposing nuclear waste so please i’m still not sold on how safe his nuclear reactor. It’s not as easy as dumping to water or burying underground….

        Even the Japanese with their triple redundant safety mechanism failed to anticipate what happened to Fukushima.

      • Serom


  • patriotic_act

    Oil Companies’ reason to worry.

  • divictes

    My friend here, Abu bin Babu, is wearing a silly, wicked grin…

  • Rogel Corrales

    go CD-R King!

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