Two of 47 newly funded Department of Energy (DOE) research projects are led by professors in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) at MIT. Under its Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) umbrella, the DOE has awarded $36.2 million in support of projects in four fields: fuel cycle research and development; reactor concepts research, development and demonstration; nuclear energy advanced modeling and simulation; and transformative research. Both the MIT projects fall into the fuel cycle research & development category.
“Scholarship for Nuclear Communications and Methods for Evaluation of Nuclear Project Acceptability” will develop a model to characterize the factors affecting social acceptance of nuclear projects by potential stakeholders. The nuclear enterprise has long faced difficulties in gaining the broad social acceptance needed for success. The base of scholarship relevant to this problem is relatively small, and not much used within the nuclear enterprise. Reliance upon public education efforts continues to be the main, and largely unsuccessful, tactic to achieve acceptance. This project will develop a model for the social acceptability of nuclear projects, for use in assessment and refinement of their probabilities of success among essential stakeholders. The researchers expect that it will strengthen the ability to design and implement large projects more efficiently, leading to higher rates of success for future nuclear projects.
Continue reading at DOE Paying MIT for Pro-Nuclear Evaluation of Research
Interesting that “communications” would be such a prominent research item for MIT. Japanese officials always speak of seeking the “understanding” of communities; when such understanding is not immediately forthcoming, the problem is said to be one of “insufficient explanation.” The possibility that citizens may fundamentally disagree with the safety of siting or restarting a reactor is ignored: the problem, rather, is one of “communication,” and it sounds like MIT is investing big bucks and brain power to address this issue.