Steven Jepeal

Photo: Paul Rivenberg

Steven Jepeal wins second place prize in Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D awards

Paul Rivenberg  |  PSFC News

Steven Jepeal, a recent graduate of MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) department, has been awarded a Second Place prize in the 2021 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Fuel and Supply Chain. Jepeal's award is in the Open Competition category of Advanced Fuels.

His award-winning paper, “Intermediate Energy Proton Irradiation: Rapid, High-Fidelity Materials Testing for Fusion and Fission Energy Systems,” was published in the journal Materials & Design in February 2021. Jepeal performed his research under the direction of NSE professor Zach Hartwig at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

Jepeal’s publication is related to his recently completed thesis, which focuses on a new technique to understand how bulk material properties will evolve in the extreme environment of fusion power plants. In this work, he developed a new radiation damage testing technique and built up an analytical framework to predict how well it can simulate fusion conditions. The technique was qualified experimentally through irradiation and testing of a high strength alloy (Inconel 718) and a high conductivity material (OFHC copper) that are used in fusion applications

The project is one of the first sponsored by the PSFC Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technology (LIFT). Funded by the Italian energy company Eni through the MIT Energy Initiative, LIFT was established specifically to support advances in fusion research.

After graduation, Jepeal is joining forces with a fellow NSE grad student, Sam McAlpine (a recipient of this award in 2020), to form a technology startup called Allium Engineering. Its focus will be on developing a metal coating that protects rebar from corrosion by preventing exposure to water and salt. 

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all my mentors, peers, and friends for the support during my time at MIT. I hope this award helps spread the word about the great work towards achieving fusion energy being done at my former lab and many other labs across the PSFC and NSE.”

The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program is designed to: 1) award graduate and undergraduate students for innovative nuclear-technology-relevant research publications, 2) demonstrate the Department of Energy’s commitment to higher education in nuclear-technology-relevant disciplines, and 3) support communications among university students and Department of Energy representatives.

The program awarded 22 prizes in 2021 for student publications relevant to innovative nuclear technology. In addition to cash awards, award-winning students will have a variety of other opportunities.



Topics: Technology & engineering, Plasma material interactions, Zachary Hartwig