The Nuclear Waste Startup Aiming to Rebrand Atomic Energy
UICK SURVEY: HOW do you feel about nuclear energy? If you’re like 84 percent of America, you believe that nuclear power should be “very important in the future.” That’s according to a recent phone survey conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute, and it includes an interesting caveat: the 84 percent of people who responded favorably did so “once informed that nuclear energy produces nearly two-thirds of the nation’s low-carbon electricity.” In other words: people seem to like the idea of nuclear energy, once they know more about it.
Power. The two MIT nuclear science graduates have sweeping ambitions—to bring back a nuclear reactor design first prototyped in the 1960s, and in doing so, change the landscape of clean energy in the 21st century—and a profound sense of optimism, which they want to share with the public. Right around the time they received funding from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Massie says, “I realized if we were going to be perceived seriously, we should probably have a logo and a visual language that doesn’t look like it was designed by a nuclear engineer.”
They took their business to IDEO, a design studio heavyweight and, conveniently, a neighbor to Massie and Dewan, who still live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The issue, as outlined by IDEO design director Nick DuPey, has a lot to do with clarity. “When you think of the science behind nuclear energy, it can be very tricky,” he says. Massie agrees: “It’s much easier to start spouting out numbers and talking about the purely technical benefits of a technology. You need more than just the purely technical. You need the human face, a human voice.”
Their solution is a good old-fashioned website, logo, and brand identity book. The site is appealing, in a meticulously crafted, Squarespace kind of way. It even looks a bit like Warby Parker’s site—almost as though you could shop there. In total, the site bridges the history of nuclear power with what Transatomic is doing now. There’s a page dedicated to the science, “where you end up getting the specifics and the feeling of comfort in knowing these guys are experts,” DuPey says.