Dr. Leslie Dewan is a key figure in the future of nuclear power generation.
In 2011, she co-founded Transatomic Power, which is making steadfast progress towards commercializing an innovative molten salt reactor fueled by nuclear waste.
“We’re developing a new type of reactor that can run entirely on used nuclear fuel,” she says. “It consumes the fuel and it reduces its radioactive lifetime while at the same time generating an enormous amount of electricity.”
Dewan said the company is aiming to break ground on a demonstration facility within five years and have it operational a few years after that. “For the nuclear industry, it’s very fast-paced,” she says.
Since last July, Transatomic has raised $4.5 million in startup funds.
The new funding will be used for lab testing of key components involved with the reactor design, and for refinement of the design for a prototype reactor. The company will be testing materials under a three-year research agreement with the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.
Dr. Dewan graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, with a research focus on computational nuclear materials. She also holds S.B. degrees from MIT in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering.
“At MIT everyone around there was so excited about building crazy things and were just totally free and unrestrained in all the cool engineering projects they were putting together,” she recalls.
Before starting her Ph.D., she worked for a robotics company in Cambridge, MA, where she designed search-and-rescue robots and equipment for in-field identification of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.
Leslie has been awarded a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship and an MIT Presidential Fellowship. She was named a TIME Magazine “30 People Under 30 Changing the World” in December 2013, an MIT Technology Review “Innovator Under 35″ in September 2013, and a Forbes “30 Under 30″ in Energy in December 2012.