NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


Jacopo Buongiorno

Jacopo Buongiorno

Tokyo Electric Power Company Professor in Nuclear Engineering
Director, Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES)
Director, Science and Technology, Nuclear Reactor Laboratory




Jacopo Buongiorno is the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES), and the Director of Science and Technology of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. He has published over 100 journal articles in the areas of reactor safety and design, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and nanofluid technology. For his research work and teaching he won several awards, among which recently the 2022 ANS Presidential Citation. Jacopo has 20 years of experience as a consultant for the nuclear industry in the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, and as a member of the Accrediting Board of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. He is a Member of the national Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, a Fellow of the NUclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics (NURETH) conference, a member of the ASME, past member of the Naval Studies Board (2017–2019), and a participant in the Defense Science Study Group (2014–2015).


  • Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 2024
  • NURETH Fellow, 2023
  • ANS Presidential Citation for outstanding support of ANS Crisis Communications, 2022
  • ANS Outstanding Teacher Award, MIT, May 2019
  • Fellow, American Nuclear Society, May 2017
  • Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching, School of Engineering, 2006, 2011 and 2015.
  • MacVicar Faculty Fellow for exemplary and sustained contributions to the teaching and education of undergraduates at MIT, March 2014
  • Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award, American Nuclear Society, 2011.
  • ASME Heat Transfer Division Best Paper, 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

Paper/Presentation Awards

  • Best Paper Award at Proc. ICAPP 2023, Gyeongju, South Korea, April 23-27, 2023. (Emile Germonpré, J. Buongiorno, K. Shirvan, J. I. Lee, R. Macdonald, “An economic analysis of the use of nuclear microreactors in hydrogen production”)
  • Best Paper Award at Proc. ICAPP 2023, Gyeongju, South Korea, April 23-27, 2023. (Emile Gateau, N. Todreas, J. Buongiorno, “Consequence-based security for microreactors”)
  • Best Paper Award at Proc. ICAPP 2023, Gyeongju, South Korea, April 23-27, 2023. (Faris Fakhry, J. Buongiorno, S. Rhyne, B. Cross, P. Roege, B. Landrey, “A Central Facility Concept for Nuclear Microreactor Maintenance and Fuel Cycle Management”)
  • Best Paper Award at the 17th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics (NURETH-17), Xi’an, China, September 3-8, 2017. (M. M. Rahman, C. Wang, G. Saccone, M. Bucci, J. Buongiorno, “Mechanistic prediction of wickability and CHF enhancement in micro- and nano-engineered surface”)
  • 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).
  • Best Paper Award at the 1st ASME Micro/Nanoscale Heat Transfer International Conference, Tainan, Taiwan, January 6-9, 2008.
  • Best Technical Paper Award at the 8th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering (ICONE-8), Baltimore, April 2000. (J. Buongiorno, N. E. Todreas, M. S. Kazimi. “Void Fraction Prediction for the Pb-Bi/Water Direct Contact Nuclear Reactor”.)


Research Interests

Multi-phase flow and heat transfer; advanced reactor design; reactor thermal-hydraulics and safety. My current research is focused in the following areas.

Nuclear Batteries

Enabled by advances in embedded intelligence and adaptive manufacturing and materials, we are developing new small, flexible, plug-and-play nuclear systems, known as Nuclear Batteries (NB). These batteries are unique in both form and function, having the potential to structurally change the very nature of energy supply and global economic competition. They are particularly well suited for a paradigm where energy source is embedded in the application. They can deliver clean, virtually unlimited electricity and heat to nano- and micro- energy grids on-site anywhere on the planet at any scale without being connected to a national grid or fuel pipeline. No other energy system paradigm can do that. They can provide energy locally for industrial processes, production of food, desalinated water, medications, synthetic fuels, and much more This sets the stage for new types of more resilient, competitive, productive, and less-resource intensive energy-industrial platforms, without many of today’s risks. NB-powered nano- and micro- energy grids can enable a more distributed, democratized, and secure energy-industrial system, delivering the increased socio-economic, health and environmental resilience that the world’s nations, small and large, sorely need.

Study on the Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon Constrained World

We are conducting a multi-disciplinary assessment of the opportunities and challenges affecting the ability of nuclear energy technologies in meeting U.S. and global energy needs in a carbon-constrained world. This study is timely as the landscape and boundary conditions for nuclear have drastically changed in the past 6-8 years due to a number of contributing factors. The study started in August 2016 and will culminate with the release of a report in the Spring of 2018. For more information, including specific objectives, events, and a list of faculty, students and members of the advisory board, click here.

The offshore floating nuclear power plant

We are developing an offshore floating nuclear power plant concept that achieves unprecedented levels of safety. It does so through innovative design features that ensure indefinite cooling of the nuclear fuel (thus reducing the likelihood of accidents with fuel damage and radionuclide release), and eliminate the need for land evacuation, should such an accident actually occur. Both features are responsive to the new safety imperatives of a post-Fukushima world. This is a plant that can be entirely built (and decommissioned) as a floating rig in a shipyard, floated to the operating site (within 8–15 km of the coast), anchored in relatively deep water (i.e., ~100 m), and connected to the grid via an underwater transmission line. The economic potential is high, owing to efficient shipyard construction and decommissioning, and elimination of concrete structures from the plant design.
VIDEO: The Offshore Floating Nuclear Plant (OFNP) concept

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’.

Surface effects on boiling heat transfer

It is well known that boiling and quenching heat transfer depends strongly on the morphology and composition of the solid surface through which the heat transfer occurs. The relevant surface features are roughness, wettability (hydrophilicity), porosity, presence of cavities, size and shape of cavities, and thermo-physical properties of the surface material. My work has been exploring the separate effects of surface roughness, wettability and porosity on both Critical Heat Flux (CHF) and quenching heat transfer (Leidenfrost point temperature). This is made possible by the use of surfaces with engineered features (e.g. posts, coatings, nanoparticle layers) at the micro- and nano-scale, which enabled varying the surface roughness, wettability and porosity precisely and independently from each other. In fabricating the test surfaces, I work with Profs. Michael Rubner and Robert Cohen in DMSE and ChemE, respectively.

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’. We study the synthesis and behavior of nanofluids, including fundamentals of heat transfer, boiling phenomena and specifically the enhancement mechanisms for Critical Heat Flux (CHF) and quenching acceleration, which are relevant to the reactor application.

Ultra-low Thermal-Conductivity Materials for Cold-Water Wetsuits

There are three basic designs of cold-water diving suits including wetsuits, variable volume drysuits (air-filled gap) and hot water wetsuits (circulating water from a surface supply). They either suffer from limited thermal insulation (wetsuit), limited range (hot water wetsuits) or risk of catastrophic failure (variable volume drysuits and hot water wetsuits). This project has been focusing on creating highly-insulating “artificial blubber” by improving the insulating properties of neoprene foam. We made encouraging progress towards this goal, having shown that infusing (“charging”) highly-insulating noble gases into neoprene can reduce its thermal conductivity by as much as 40%. We also showed that this improvement in thermal insulation is highly repeatable, and demonstrated the improvement for an entire wetsuit.
PODCAST: Otter alternatives to conventional wetsuits
VIDEO: Artificial blubber
VIDEO: Ultra-low Thermal-Conductivity Materials for Cold-Water Wetsuits


“Ultra-Low Thermal Conductivity Diving-Suit Material for Enhanced Persistence in Cold-Water Dives U.S. Application No.: 62/424828, Filing Date: November 21, 2016, Inventor(s: Jacopo Buongiorno, Matteo Bucci, Anton Lee Cottrill, Jeffrey Moran, Michael S Strano

“In-situ treatment of metallic surfaces”, Provisional patent, Serial Number 61/153,411. United States Patent and TM Office. Filing date 18 February 2009. L. W. Hu, J. Buongiorno, B. Truong, H. Feldman

“Concentrated solar power system”, International Publication No. WO 2011/035232 March 24, 2011. US patent No. 9273883, Published March 1 , 2016 A. Slocum, J. Buongiorno, C. Forsberg, D. Codd, A. Paxson

“Hydrophobic Porous Coatings for Creation of Stable Vapor Films to Reduce Drag”, U.S. Application No.: 61/706401, Filing Date: September 27, 2012, M.I.T. Case No. 15825K, MIT Docket No.: 15825.113297, R. Cohen, M. Rubner, J. Buongiorno, H. O'Hanley, T. McKrell

“Nanoparticle Thin-Film Coatings for Enhancement of Boiling Heat Transfer”, U.S. Patent No. 8,701,927, April 2014. M. Rubner, J. Buongiorno, L.W. Hu, E. Forrest, E. Williamson, R. Cohen

“Surface Textures and Methods for Enhancing and Controlling Critical Heat Flux in Boiling on Surfaces”, U.S. Application No.: 62/187335, Filing Date: July 1, 2015, N. Dhillon, J. Buongiorno, K. Varanasi


Recent Publications

  1. F. Fakhry, J. Buongiorno, S. Rhyne, B. Cross, P. Roege, B. Landrey, “A Central Facility Concept for Nuclear Microreactor Maintenance and Fuel Cycle Management”, Nuclear Engineering and Technology, 2023.
  2. K. Shirvan, J. Buongiorno, R. MacDonald, B. Dunkin, S. Cetiner, E. Saito, T. Conboy, C. Forsberg, “UO2-fueled Microreactors: Near-Term Solutions to Emerging Markets”, Nuclear Engineering and Design, 412, 112470, 2023.
  3. F. Antonello, J. Buongiorno, E. Zio, “A Methodology to Perform Dynamic Risk Assessment Using System Theory and Modeling and Simulation”, Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 228, 108769, 2022.
  4. A. Bouma, Q. Wei, J. Parsons, J. Buongiorno, J. Lienhard, “Energy and water without carbon: Integrated desalination and nuclear power at Diablo Canyon”, Applied Energy, 323,119612, 2022.
  5. J. Buongiorno, B. Carmichael, B. Dunkin, J. Parsons, D. Smit, “Can Nuclear Batteries Be Economically Competitive in Large Markets?”, Energies, 14, 4385, 2021.
  6. J. Buongiorno, R. Freda, S. Aumeier, K. Chilton, “A Strategy to Unlock the Potential of Nuclear Energy for a New and Resilient Global Energy-Industrial Paradigm”, The Bridge, 51, 2, June 2021.
  7. E. Lizarraga-Garcia, J. Buongiorno, E. Al-Safran, “Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Simulations of Taylor Bubbles in Vertical and Inclined Pipes with Upward and Downward Liquid Flow”, SPE Journal, 26(06), 3832–3847, 2021.
  8. M. Bucci, J. Buongiorno, M. Bucci, “The not-so-subtle flaws of the force balance approach to predict the departure of bubbles in boiling heat transfer”, Physics of Fluids, Vol. 33, Issue 1, 2021.
  9. S. Faucher, D. J. Lundberg, X. A. Liang, X. C. Jin, D. Parviz, J. Buongiorno, M. Strano, “A Virucidal Face Mask Based on the Reverse-flow Reactor Concept for Thermal Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2”, AIChE Journal, 2021.
  10. P. Eash-Gates, M. M. Klemun, G. Kavlak, J. McNerney, J. Buongiorno, J. E. Trancik, “Sources of cost overrun in nuclear power plant construction call for a new approach to engineering design”, Joule, 4, 2348-2373, November 2020.
  11. K. Dawson, M. Corradini, J. Parsons, J. Buongiorno, “Deep Decarbonization of the Power Sector: the Need for a Low-Carbon, Dispatchable, Scalable and Widely Available Energy Source”, The Bridge, 50, 3, September 2020.
  12. A. Kossolapov, F. Chavagnat, R. Nop, N. Dorville, B. Phillips, J. Buongiorno, M. Bucci, “The boiling crisis of water under exponentially escalating heat inputs in subcooled flow boiling at atmospheric pressure”, Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer, 160, 120137, 2020.
  13. J. Parsons, J. Buongiorno, M. Corradini, D. Petti, “A fresh look at nuclear energy”, Science, Vol. 363, Issue 6423, Page 105, 11 January 2019.

all publications (pdf)


22.06 Engineering of Nuclear Systems
2.005 Thermal-Fluids Engineering I
22.011x Nuclear Energy: Science, Systems and Society
22.312 Engineering of Nuclear Reactors
22.313J Thermal Hydraulics in Power Technology



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