Source: Business Insider | November 27, 2018


A TerraPower facility. Credit: TerraPower

Bill Gates sees nuclear energy as a potential solution to lowering carbon-dioxide emissions around the world, and he has spent the past decade funding new ways to produce the energy in a safe, affordable way.

About 10 years ago, Gates cofounded a company called TerraPowerto build new kinds of nuclear reactors.

TerraPower is developing a line of reactors that use a molten-chloride coolant, drawing on a decades-old, but still unused, invention to lower costs and reduce waste. The most common reactors use light (or regular) water as a coolant.

Following a US Department of Energy investment worth $40 millionand a partnership with energy provider Southern Company, TerraPower plans on opening a new laboratory next year. Gates’ company wants to develop a molten-chloride prototype by 2030, and the laboratory will be used to test reactor materials in the meantime.

John Gilleland, the company’s chief technology officer, told Business Insider that molten chloride designs are the “ultimate green reactor.”

“It not only would allow you to produce electricity without carbon emissions, but by shipping the heat directly to some process in an industrial facility, you can provide the necessary heat to cause reactions to occur in industrial processing, or whatever you want to use it for, without carbon emissions,” Gilleland said.

Article Highlights:

  • TerraPower, an energy company cofounded by Bill Gates, builds advanced nuclear reactors.
  • The company is developing a new reactor that uses molten chloride instead of water as a coolant. TerraPower believes the design will be safer and more efficient than today’s reactors.
  • Gates has supported nuclear-energy projects for several years, hoping that improvements in the technology can help curb the effects of climate change.
  • A new laboratory is slated to open next year, and TerraPower chief technology officer John Gilleland said the company plans on having a prototype reactor ready in about 10 years.

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