Bill Gates, Toshiba-backed TerraPower To Develop ‘traveling wave’ nuclear reactors
Microsoft (MSFT) founder Bill Gates loves to solve extremely tough problems. For example, he is backing a startup company, TerraPower, which is trying to develop small-scale nuclear reactors. To pull this off, Gates is prepared to shell out several billion dollars.
However, he will also need a strategic partner. And according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, there are preliminary discussions with Toshiba. While the company is best known for its computer business, it also has a strong footprint in nuclear, especially with its U.S.-based Westinghouse division.
The plan is to develop traveling-wave reactors (TWRs), which use depleted uranium fuel and operate underground. Essentially, the belief is that a unit can operate a hundred years without refueling. Yes, this is certainly a game changer.
And, it looks like the opportunity could be in emerging markets. After all, as the economies expand, there will be a growing need for cheap energy.
But, to make TWRs a reality, there is still much work that needs to be done, such as the development of new high-strength materials. In fact, commercialization is likely not to happen until at least another decade.