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Charles W. Forsberg

Charles W. Forsberg

Research Scientist
Executive Director, MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Project
Director and PI, Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor Project
University Lead, Idaho National Laboratory Hybrid Energy Systems

617-258-8863 (fax)


  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1969
  • M.S., Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1971
  • Sc.D., Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974


Dr. Charles Forsberg is the Executive Director for the MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study, Director and principle investigator for the MIT Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor Project, and the Idaho National Laboratory University Lead for Hybrid Energy Systems. Before joining MIT he was a Corporate Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Forsberg received the 2002 American Nuclear Society Special Award for Innovative Nuclear Reactors (Fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactors), and in 2005 the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Robert E. Wilson Award in recognition of chemical engineering contributions to nuclear energy, including his work on reprocessing, waste management, repositories, and production of liquid fuels using nuclear energy. He holds 11 patents and has published more than 250 papers. He is a licensed professional engineer.

Research Interests

Nuclear Fuel Cycles: Rethinking How Fuel Cycles are Organized

Nuclear fuel cycles, including disposal of wastes, are central to nuclear power. With the recent completion of the MIT Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle report, a series of critical questions were identified that are the basis of future research. One top-level question is how the fuel cycle should be organized (download pdf)—including whether backend fuel cycle facilities should be collocated at the repository to improve economics, repository performance, nonproliferation characteristics, and public acceptance. This question leads to a broad set of research questions that define our research interests.

  1. C. W. Forsberg, “Coupling Repositories with Fuel Cycles”, Nuclear News, November 2011. download pdf
  2. M. Kazimi, E. Moniz, C. Forsberg, et. al., The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, an Interdisciplinary Study, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, April 2011. website
  3. C. W. Forsberg, “Alternative Fuel-Cycle Repository Designs,” International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, Paper 3213, Albuquerque, New Mexico (April 10-14, 2010)
  4. C. W. Forsberg, C. M. Hopper, J. L. Richter, and H.C. Vantine. Definition of Weapons-usable Uranium-233, ORNL/TM-13517, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee (March 1998). download pdf

Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactors (FHRs): Improving Economics, Providing Electricity Without the Need for Cooling Water, and Assuring Safety

The FHR is a new reactor concept developed within the last decade that combines four existing technologies (download pdf) in a new way that may create a more economic high-temperature reactor with higher levels of inherent safety. The four technologies are high-temperature graphite coated-particle fuel from gas-cooled reactors, liquid salt coolants from molten salt reactors, high-efficiency air Brayton power cycles that require no water cooling from gas turbines designed to burn natural gas, and safety systems from sodium-cooled fast reactors. Dr. Forsberg leads the Integrated Research Project to develop a pathway to commercial deployment—a project lead by MIT with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison as partners. It is a 3-year project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

  1. C. W. Forsberg, Lin-wen. Hu, Per F. Peterson, and Kumar Sridharan, Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactors (FHRs) for Base-Load and Peak Electricity, Grid Stabilization, and Process Heat, MIT CANES Report, MIT-ANP-TR-147 (January 2013).
  2. C. W. Forsberg, P. F. Peterson, and R. A. Kochendarfer, “Design Options for the Advanced High-Temperature Reactor,” International Congress on Advanced Nuclear Power Plants, Anaheim, California, June 8-15, 2008, American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, Illinois, 2008.
  3. C. W. Forsberg, “Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuels Production,” Proc. Global 2007: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Systems, Boise, Idaho, September 9-13, 2007, American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, Illinois.

Hybrid Energy Systems: Combining Nuclear, Renewable and Fossil Energy Sources for Liquid Fuels and Variable Electricity Production.

Long term energy goals include (1) eliminating dependence on foreign oil and (2) low greenhouse gas emissions. The question is how to couple nuclear with other energy sources to meet these goals. Options for liquid fuels production include nuclear liquid biofuels and low-environmental impact nuclear shale oil production. The other challenge is integrating nuclear and renewable energy sources to meet variable electricity and other energy needs. This requires hybrid energy systems that enable capital intensive nuclear and renewable systems to operate at full capacity while meeting variable electricity demand (download pdf). It involves development of technologies (download pdf) such as nuclear-geothermal gigawatt-year energy storage, nuclear wind hydrogen systems, and nuclear shale-oil electricity systems. There remain major technical questions and challenges.

  1. C. W. Forsberg, Nuclear Energy for Variable Electricity and Liquid Fuels Production: Integrating Nuclear with Renewables, Fossil Fuels, and Biomass for a Low Carbon World, MIT-NES-TR-015 (September 2011). download pdf
  2. C. W. Forsberg, “Sustainability by combining nuclear, fossil, and renewable energy sources," Progress in Nuclear Energy, V. 51:1, Jan 2009, pp. 192-200
  3. C. W. Forsberg, “Is Hydrogen the Future of Nuclear Energy?” Nuclear Technology, V. 166: 1, PP. 3-10 (April 2009).
  4. C. W. Forsberg, “Nuclear Energy for a Low-Carbon-Dioxide-Emission Transportation System with Liquid Fuels,” Nuclear Technology, 164, 348-367, December 2008.

High-Temperature Solar Thermal Power Systems

The Concentrated Solar Power on Demand system (CSPond) (download pdf) is a new type of high-efficiency solar power system with operating temperatures between 700 and 950°C. The high-temperature salt technology and power systems are similar or identical to those required for fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactors (more). Consequently this is a joint project between NSE and the Mechanical Engineering Department. It is part of a broader effort to develop high-temperature salt-cooled power systems download pdf.

  1. A. H. Slocum, D. S. Codd, J. Buongiorno, C. Forsberg, T. McKrell, J. Nave, C. N. Papanicolas, A. Ghobeity, C. J. Noone, S. Passerini, F. Rojas, and “A. Mitsos “Concentrated Solar Power on Demand,” Solar Energy 85, 1519-1529 (2011)


22.911 Seminar in Nuclear Engineering
22.912 Seminar in Nuclear Engineering
22.78   Principles in Nuclear Chemical Engineering and Waste Management

Recent Invited Lectures

Oxford University, Alternative Nuclear Energy Futures: Peak Electricity, Hydrogen, and Liquid Fuels, 2011 World Nuclear University Institute, Christ Church, England, July 10, 2011.

National Renewables Energy Laboratory, Nuclear Wind Hydrogen Systems for Variable Electricity and Hydrogen Production, Bolder, Colorado, September 12, 2011.

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, The MIT Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study, Los Angeles, California, July 19, 2010.

Recent Professional Service

National Research Council of the Academy of Science (Planning committee), Improving the Assessment of Proliferation Risk in Nuclear Fuel Cycles: Workshop Summary, Washington D.C., August 1-2, 2011. (In Press)

U.S. Department of Energy (Organizer), Technology and Applied R&D Needs for Nuclear Fuel Resources (Uranium resources), Norwood, Massachusetts, October 13-15, 2010.

U.S. Department of Energy (Organizer): Nuclear Separations Technologies Workshop Report: Getting From Where We Are to Where We Want to Be in Nuclear Separations Technologies, July 17-18, 2011. (In Press)

American Nuclear Society. Director, Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology