Gates discussing new nuclear reactor with China
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.
“The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste,” said the billionaire during a talk at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Gates said he had largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. TerraPower says it has discussed its plans with India, Russia and other countries with nuclear energy programs.
The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.
“TerraPower is having very good discussions with CNNC and various people in the Chinese government,” said Gates, cautioning the talks were at an early stage.
Gates says perhaps as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.
TerraPower says its traveling wave reactor would run for decades on depleted uranium and produce significantly smaller amounts of nuclear waste than conventional reactors.
“All these new designs are going to be incredibly safe,” Gates told the audience. “They require no human action to remain safe at all times.”
He said they also benefit from an ability to simulate earthquake and tidal wave conditions. “It takes safety to a new level,” he said.