PEDLS Ronald M. Latanision — Lecture

Event Date: April 26, 2022
Speaker: Ronald M. Latanision, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Exponent Inc.
Time: 3:30-4:30 PM EDT
Location: ARMS, Kurz Atrium
Priority: No
School or Program: Industrial Engineering
College Calendar: Show

The Politics and Engineering of Nuclear Waste Management

Ronald M. Latanision


Nuclear electric generation should remain an important part of our energy mix in the future. It is safe, reliable and green. But, the U.S. failure to deal with spent nuclear fuel is problematic. While the policy associated with the management of nuclear waste exists we have not as a nation shown the public or political will to implement that policy. The waste should be buried in a deep geologic repository at Yucca Mountain. My opinion is that we should impose a moratorium on the construction of any new fission-based nuclear power plants until the License Application is back on track at the NRC, Congress approves the funding for construction of a repository and construction begins. This may seem draconian, but it is not. With an identified site and a policy road map in place, what is required is the will to go forward. That could happen in a fraction of the time required to design, build and commission a new NPP. There are technical and social challenges that can be solved (the latter with the involvement of social scientists), but the major obstacles have been and remain political.


Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Latanision was the Director of The H.H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at M.I.T., and held joint faculty appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and in the Department of Nuclear Engineering.  He led the School of Engineering’s Materials Processing Center at MIT as its Director from 1985 to 1991. He is now an Emeritus Professor at MIT. 

In April 2015, he was appointed an Adjunct Professor in the Key Laboratory of Nuclear Materials and Safety Assessment of the Institute of Metal Research of The Chinese Academy of Sciences. In addition, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a Fellow of ASM International and of NACE International.  From 1983–1988, Dr. Latanision was the first holder of the Shell Distinguished Chair in Materials Science.  He was a founder of Altran Materials Engineering Corporation, established in 1992. Dr. Latanision has served in several capacities at Exponent: as Principal and Director of the Mechanics and Materials Practice, Exponent’s largest practice; as Corporate Vice President and, currently, as its first Senior Fellow.

Dr. Latanision’s research interests are focused largely in the areas of materials processing and in the corrosion of metals and other materials in aqueous (ambient as well as high temperature and pressure) environments.  He specializes in corrosion science and engineering with particular emphasis on materials selection for contemporary and advanced engineering systems and in failure analysis.  His expertise extends to electrochemical systems and processing technologies, ranging from fuel cells and batteries to supercritical water power generation and waste destruction.  Dr. Latanision’s research interests include stress corrosion cracking and hydrogen embrittlement of metals and alloys, water and ionic permeation through thin polymer films, photoelectrochemistry, and the study of aging phenomena/life prediction in engineering materials and systems.  Dr. Latanision is a member of the International Corrosion Council and serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Corrosion Reviews, with Raul Rebak of GE Global Research. He is Editor-in-Chief of the National Academy of Engineering Quarterly, The Bridge.

Dr. Latanision has served as a science advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology in Washington, D.C.  He has also served as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Massachusetts Office of Science and Technology, an executive branch office created to strengthen the Commonwealth’s science and technology infrastructure with emphasis directed toward future economic growth.  Dr. Latanision has served as a member of the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Research Council and now serves as a member of the NRC’s Standing Committee on Chemical Demilitarization.   In June of 2002, Dr. Latanision was appointed by President George W. Bush to membership on the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. He was reappointed for a second four-year term by President Barack Obama.

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