Taylor Wilson is not your typical teenager: He designs nuclear reactors.
The 18-year-old has designed a Small Modular Fission Reactor that runs on atomic waste and is capable of producing enough electricity to power approximately 100,000 homes.
According to Raw Story, Wilson’s nuclear reactor is small but powerful. It has the ability to produce between 50 and 100 megawatts of electricity and can be powered by molten radioactive material from nuclear weapons.
Debuting his design at a TED Conference in California on Thursday, Wilson explained:
“In the Cold War we built up this huge arsenal of nuclear weapons and we don’t need them anymore. It would be great if we could eat them up, and this reactor loves this stuff.”
The teenager’s nuclear reactor design is compact enough to allow for production on a factory assembly line.
The reduced size is a positive factor, making it possible to ship to areas where such a product might be considered inaccessible.
According to Digital Journal, the reactors are designed for underground installation, a safety precaution against counter-terrorism. Once the Small Modular Fission Reactor is out of fuel, it can be sealed and safely discarded.
An additional safety feature of Wilson’s reactor is the ability to effectively run as a closed system. The unit contains a fuel system that lasts for 30 years rather than the 18 months typically seen in nuclear power plants.
A TED blog post writes that Wilson sees the potential for his nuclear reactor to provide carbon-free power while working to combat climate change. He envisions his design as a way to bring electricity to areas of the world that are still developing.
The teenager also entertains the possibility that his design could one day help to fuel scientific exploration:
“I think there’s something poetic about using nuclear power to propel us to the stars. Because the stars are giant nuclear power reactors themselves.”