NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT

FAQ | Contact | Jobs | NSE Policies

Jacopo Buongiorno

Jacopo Buongiorno

Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering

617-258-8863 (fax)


PhD, Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000.
B.S., Nuclear Engineering, Polytechnic of Milan, 1996.

Research Interests

Multi-phase flow and heat transfer; advanced reactor design; reactor thermal-hydraulic, neutronic and structural analysis. My current research is focused in four areas:

Nanofluids for Nuclear Applications

By seeding the nuclear reactor coolant with nanoparticles it is possible to enhance the rate at which energy is removed from the nuclear fuel under normal and accident conditions, thus improving the reactor's economic and safety performance. The resulting particle-fluid system is called a 'nanofluid'. Watch the video

Fundamentals of Boiling

Cutting edge experimental techniques are used to study the physics of two-phase flow and heat transfer phenomena, in particular nucleate boiling, Critical Heat Flux (CHF) and quenching heat transfer. The group has optimized the use of synchronized infra-red thermography, high-speed video and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) to obtain detailed data for temperature distribution on the boiling surface, bubble departure diameter and frequency, growth and wait times, nucleation site density, near-wall void fraction, etc.. These data can be used to inform and validate models of boiling heat transfer, CHF and quenching, including multi-phase Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and specifically Interface Tracking Methods (ITM). With such methods the geometry of the vapor-liquid interface is not assumed (e.g., bullet-shaped bubbles), but actually calculated from 'first principles'. Watch the video

Advanced Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) methods for nuclear safety and CFD codes

The objective of this work is to reduce the number of code runs to be performed to get to a target confidence interval for the figure of merit (i.e. thermal margin). The methodology is as follows: i) reduce the number of important parameters using a Quantitative Phenomena Identification and Ranking Table (QPIRT); this is an "objective" PIRT as seen by the code, not based on subjective expert judgment, ii) train a surrogate model or a polynomial chaos expansion with a limited number of runs, and iii) quantify the uncertainty using the surrogate model or the polynomial chaos expansion. This approach can be significantly more efficient than traditional brute-force Monte Carlo sampling.


U.S. Application No.: 61/706401, Filing Date: September 27, 2012, M.I.T. Case No. 15825K, MIT Docket No.: 15825.113297, "Hydrophobic Porous Coatings for Creation of Stable Vapor Films to Reduce Drag", by Robert Cohen, Michael Rubner, Jacopo Buongiorno, Harrison O'Hanley and Thomas McKrell

"In-situ treatment of metallic surfaces", Provisional patent, Serial Number 61/153,411. United States Patent and TM Office. Filing date 18 February 2009.

"Nanoparticle Thin-Film Coatings for Enhancement of Boiling Heat Transfer", US Patent No. US 2010/0224638 A1, United States Patent and TM Office. Filed 10 February 2010.

"Concentrated solar power system", International Publication No. WO 2011/035232 March 24, 2011.

Recent Publications

  1. H. O’ Hanley, J. Buongiorno, T. McKrell, L. W. Hu, M. Rubner, R. Cohen,“Separate Effects of Surface Roughness, Wettability and Porosity on the Boiling Critical Heat Flux”, Applied Physics Letters, 03, 024102, 2013
  2. G. DeWitt, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, L.W. Hu, R.J. Park, “Experimental Study of Critical Heat Flux with Alumina-water Nanofluids in Downward-Facing Channels for In-Vessel Retention Applications”, Nuclear Energy Technology, under review, 2013.
  3. V. I. Sharma, Jacopo Buongiorno, Thomas J. McKrell, L.W. Hu,“Experimental Study of Transient Critical Heat Flux During Boiling of Water-Based Nanofluids With Zinc-Oxide Nanoparticles”, Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer, in press 2013.
  4. E. C. Forrest, L.-W. Hu, J. Buongiorno, T. J. McKrell, “Pool Boiling Heat Transfer Performance of a Dielectric Fluid with Low Global Warming Potential”, Heat Transfer Engineering, accepted, 2013.
  5. X. Duan, B. Phillips, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, “Synchronized High-Speed Video, Infrared Thermometry and PIV Data for Validation of Interface-Tracking Simulations of Nucleate Boiling Phenomena”, Exp. Heat Transfer, 26:1–29, 2013.
  6. N. Prabhat, J. Buongiorno, L.W. Hu, “Convective Heat Transfer Enhancement in Nanofluids: Real Anomaly or Analysis Artifact?”, Journal of Nanofluids, Vol. 1, pp. 55––62, 2012.
  7. S. Witharana, B. Phillips, S. Strobel, H. D. Kim, J.-B. Chang, J. Buongiorno, K. Berggren, L. Chen, Y. Ding, “Bubble Nucleation on Nano- to Micro-size Cavities and Posts: An Experimental Validation of Classical Theory”, J. Applied Physics, 112, 064904, 2012.
  8. H. Kim, B. Truong, J. Buongiorno, L. W. Hu, “Effects of micro/nano-scale surface characteristics on the Leidenfrost point temperature of water”, Journal of Thermal Science and Technology, Vol. 7, No. 3, 453–462, 2012.

all publications (pdf)


22.06 Engineering of Nuclear Systems
2.005 Thermal-Fluids Engineering I
22.312 Engineering of Nuclear Reactors
22.313J Thermal Hydraulics in Power Technology


  • Best Paper Award at the 9th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Thermal-Hydraulics, Operation and Safety (NUTHOS-9) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan on September 9-13, 2012 (G. DeWitt, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, L.W. Hu and R. J. Park, "Experimental Study of Critical Heat Flux with Alumina-water Nanofluids in Downward-Facing Channels for In-Vessel Retention Applications”, Paper N9P0148).
  • Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award, American Nuclear Society, 2011.
  • Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching, School of Engineering,  2006 and 2011.
  • ASME Heat Transfer Division Best Paper, 2008.
  • Best Paper Award at the 1st ASME Micro/Nanoscale Heat Transfer International Conference, Tainan, Taiwan, January 6-9, 2008.
  • Junior Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Engineering, 2007.
  • Mark Mills Award for best U.S. PhD Thesis in Nuclear Engineering, American Nuclear Society, 2001

Massachusetts Institute of Technology