Chemical Engineering alumnus aims to design promising nuclear technologies for sustainable energy

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Nuclear reactor at sunrise

Daniel Tuana, a chemical engineering alumnus always knew he wanted to work toward creating sustainable energy, but he never dreamed it would be in the field of nuclear energy.

After graduating in 2020, Tuana was hired as a project manager and manufacturing engineer at BWXT Precision Manufacturing, a company that manufactures commercial nuclear components. Tuana had worked at BWXT on one of his co-op terms during his undergraduate degree.

Tuana put his skills as a chemical engineer to work designing precision-machined components parts for CANDU nuclear power utilities.

“The processes that surround nuclear power generation are linked closely to many of the concepts that I learned in my undergraduate degree,” says Tuana. “Deep understanding of concepts such as process optimization, waste reduction, thermodynamics and heat transfer have served me well in this work.”

Daniel Tuana
During his years at BWXT Tuana noticed there is a great deal of untapped opportunity to improve the delivery of nuclear technologies to a market hungry for sustainable energy sources.

 In 2022 the Canadian government confirmed that nuclear energy is considered clean energy. Today 60% of Ontario’s power needs are met by nuclear power.  However, the cost to create this energy is often high and governments will struggle to meet upcoming energy demands.

Tuana aims to leverage his unique insight stemming from his chemical engineering degree and his manufacturing experience to help commercialize the most promising new nuclear technologies. Tuana will combine an MBA with a Master’s degree in Nuclear Science & Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) starting this spring.

Centering himself at the intersection between business and technology, Tuana will engineer small modular reactors and micro modular reactors to facilitate an attainable scale-up in the production of nuclear energy as well as making it more cost effective.

“I want to build a Toyota not a Ferrari,” says Tuana. “I aim to build reactors that can go from the factory to the site as quickly and affordably as possible.”  

Tuana’s advice for current chemical engineering students is to step out of their comfort zone to facilitate personal growth and be open to new opportunities.

Tuana is looking forward to his studies at MIT hoping to make promising technology for sustainable energy as affordable as possible.