Bill Gates pitching fourth-gen TerraPower nuclear reactors to China

By on December 8, 2011, 12:30 PM

Microsoft founder Bill Gates met with China’s largest nuclear group this week to discuss the future of the country’s nuclear energy program. Gates is the founder and primary investor of TerraPower, a nuclear reactor design firm headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.

TerraPower is researching a type of nuclear fast reactor called the traveling wave reactor (TWR), considered a fourth generation reactor. Traditional reactors in use around the world use enriched uranium as fuel and need to be refueled every few years to remain functional. TWRs will use depleted uranium instead of enriched uranium and will be able to operate for 40 to 60 years before needing to be refueled.

Aside from not having to refuel the reactors as often, TWRs are safer than traditional reactors and generate very little waste. During a press conference on Wednesday, Gates said that TerraPower is having good discussions with CNNC (China’s biggest nuclear group) and other people in the Chinese government including the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates warned that things don’t move as fast in the nuclear industry as they do in digital technologies and as such, talks are still in the very early stages. TerraPower subsequently released a statement saying that the company has explored options in China, India, Russia and other countries with active nuclear programs and that the recent meetings in China are part of that effort. But as of now, there are no deals to speak to at this time.




User Comments: 37

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Guest said:

"wtf Bill"

He's promoting a clean, safe, modern and proliferation-proof technology to mitigate the developing worlds dependence on dirty, dangerous, polluting coal and much less worse but still polluting natural gas. Sounds good to me.

tehbanz tehbanz said:

more-so, why china bill?

Guest said:

Here is Bill's TED appearance, in which he talks about this technology.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/bill_gates.html

DokkRokken said:

tehbanz said:

more-so, why china bill?

Because in North America, we've yet to get over those 'Chernobyl' and 'Three Mile Island' things. I think it's because critical thought took a downward plummet during the eighties and has yet to rebound.

UnknownSky said:

@Guest#1: Wtf do you mean wtf? Read the article next time.

@tehbanz: Why not?

Anyways,

Good job Bill.

Mudvayne819 said:

why china? because they are in big need of new energy technology and usa/canada, etc is all controlled by the 'bad guys' who want to see their coal, gas, oil, w/e, not-renewable technology so they have monthly money coming in. basicly the same reason why we dont all drive electric cars.. they want u to buy oil every week for your car.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

DokkRokken is right. Bill is in China because that's where the market for those reactors. Here in North America we've lost the ability to think logically and we rely on our emotions instead. We'll figure it out eventually, it's just a matter of time.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

mudvayne819 said:

basicly the same reason why we dont all drive electric cars.. they want u to buy oil every week for your car.

No, I find that an Electric car costs more to buy, run and keep on the road than a simple Diesel powered car. If its cheaper to go with the Oil powered car, why not?

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

No, I find that an Electric car costs more to buy, run and keep on the road than a simple Diesel powered car. If its cheaper to go with the Oil powered car, why not?

It's easier to get into space if you just sail a ship to the end of the ocean and fall off rather than using a rocket ship.

Guest said:

Corporate interests arent why nuclear fails here, far from it. They'd probably love nuclear; it'd provide a degree of long-term certainty about what energy prices would be as well as their availability.

Guest said:

"It's easier to get into space if you just sail a ship to the end of the ocean and fall off rather than using a rocket ship. "

Thank you, you made my day!

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

tehbanz said:

more-so, why china bill?

Probably because China stands to be the single largest power consumer AND polluter in the world. Seems pretty smart to go after them with tech that can help with their growing power needs and reduce global environmental impact.

Besides, once China is doing it, everyone else will jump on the bandwagon.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

We will be back in the woods before long if we don't stop raping the world of its resources, I like Bill's vision.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

It's easier to get into space if you just sail a ship to the end of the ocean and fall off rather than using a rocket ship.

This is perhaps the best quote I have read in my whole lifetime, thank you!

burty117 said:

mudvayne819 said:

basicly the same reason why we dont all drive electric cars.. they want u to buy oil every week for your car.

No, I find that an Electric car costs more to buy, run and keep on the road than a simple Diesel powered car. If its cheaper to go with the Oil powered car, why not?

The brain washing has worked well on you I see!

You didn't stop to think WHY a diesel powered car is cheaper to own than an electric car?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Per Hansson said:

burty117 said:

mudvayne819 said:

basicly the same reason why we dont all drive electric cars.. they want u to buy oil every week for your car.

No, I find that an Electric car costs more to buy, run and keep on the road than a simple Diesel powered car. If its cheaper to go with the Oil powered car, why not?

The brain washing has worked well on you I see!

You didn't stop to think WHY a diesel powered car is cheaper to own than an electric car?

Well yeah, but at the end of the day its still cheaper? Driving (well at least here in the uk) is expensive as hell in the first place, if i'm gunna shell out ££££'s on a car, i'd rather it was a bit more involved and exiting to drive than a boring hum from some silly electic car? I'm more in it for the fun/useful factor, an electric car to me seems almost utterly pointless? Takes ages to charge, the battery has to be replaced in 5-7 years and costs tons to do so, the range isn't anything to brag about and the car in the first place costs almost twice as much as a fun little hot hatch? I dunno, is there some kind of point i'm missing here?

Guest said:

guys, leave burty117 alone...it's not his fault he can't see past his nose.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

+1 Burty

You are not, I don't believe Electric Car 'is' the future, it is not an 'cost-effective' option, and I am not going to talk about charging + range + maintenance issues. I think Hydrogen powered cars probably has the best shot for the future, however, with one caveat, a cleaner process to produce hydrogen has to be found. In other words, whoever does this, may turn out to be the next richest man in the world.

jeffz6 said:

I agree with burty117, lets put Bill's reactor in every car!

chaboi390 said:

FUSION..... Ha! lol Dragon ball Z

jonelsorel said:

burty117 said:

mudvayne819 said:

basicly the same reason why we dont all drive electric cars.. they want u to buy oil every week for your car.

No, I find that an Electric car costs more to buy, run and keep on the road than a simple Diesel powered car. If its cheaper to go with the Oil powered car, why not?

You probably also think the present status quo regarding electric cars is just a coincidence, despite the brotherhood between oil and car industries.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

The brain washing has worked well on you I see!

You didn't stop to think WHY a diesel powered car is cheaper to own than an electric car?

This thread seems kind of fragmented. I have a question. What is the "brainwashing" you are referring to?

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

red1776 said:

The brain washing has worked well on you I see!

You didn't stop to think WHY a diesel powered car is cheaper to own than an electric car?

This thread seems kind of fragmented. I have a question. What is the "brainwashing" you are referring to?

The first cars released in the 1890's where electric drive, than came petrol cars and surprassed them, which is not so strange when you look at the price of electricity at that time (See the link above to the TED talk about the nuclear reactor by Bill Gates, the price of electricity was tenfolds higher than what we have today, adjusted for inflation of course)

But then we have had 120 years of development for the petrol car, but almost none for the electric car, you don't find this strange?

What happens is the oil industry is so big so they just buy up all patents they can, therefore we have not seen any significant breakthroughs in battery capacity in the last 120 years...

For more info you can watch the documentary "who killed the electric car"

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

"who killed the electric car"

watching...be back for epic quotes soon!

Tomorrow_Rains said:

If oil doesn't need to be used to run these things then by all means. Because literally...The world is out of Oil Lol.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

But then we have had 120 years of development for the petrol car, but almost none for the electric car, you don't find this strange?

I didn't say that I didn't. I didn't know to what you were referring to as brainwashing. Thats why i asked. I have not seen 'who killed...." looking it up.

watching...be back for epic quotes soon!

Gee, you had me until you said "epic" :P

tehbanz tehbanz said:

I guess the point in asking Why china was more-so for the idea that China doesn't have the US's best interest in mind and you all KNOW that's true. What's it gonna take for these chi-coms to reverse engineer this and make some MORE powerful weapon out of it? Nothing! Yes China is forward thinking, but so is Japan. Yes Japan just had some meltdowns , but that makes it an ideal time for technology like this, safer unmanned nuclear power plants would mean something to a lot of people. (I heard on the radio that the dangerous parts of the plant were to be unmanned). Something about it just doesn't sit right with me.

I understand that we need to make advancements on energy and fast. But before you know it China will be hoarding this technology AND energy and selling it to the highest bidder, or waiting it out until other countries NEED it and then china suddenly gains new territory.

It's not as far fetched as you might imagine.

Guest said:

We really need to look into Thorium and LFTR. To continue down the same path with this type of reactor doesn't make sense. We need to rethink nuclear energy from the ground up.

Guest said:

Actually, if they want to go with the safest and cleanest form of nuclear energy that has already been proven, the should use MSR's.

Molten Salt Reactors

they use thorium

they can eliminate nuclear waste

they operate at normal atmospheric pressure

they can not meltdown, if they start to overheat a frozen salt plug melts and the reaction is shutoff

they can not be used to create nuclear weapons

To bad Bill Gates does not know about these!

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I guess the point in asking Why china was more-so for the idea that China doesn't have the US's best interest in mind and you all KNOW that's true. What's it gonna take for these chi-coms to reverse engineer this and make some MORE powerful weapon out of it? Nothing! Yes China is forward thinking, but so is Japan. Yes Japan just had some meltdowns , but that makes it an ideal time for technology like this, safer unmanned nuclear power plants would mean something to a lot of people. (I heard on the radio that the dangerous parts of the plant were to be unmanned). Something about it just doesn't sit right with me.

I understand that we need to make advancements on energy and fast. But before you know it China will be hoarding this technology AND energy and selling it to the highest bidder, or waiting it out until other countries NEED it and then china suddenly gains new territory.

It's not as far fetched as you might imagine.

I doubt they'll be selling it anytime soon. They have the right idea though. They realize what population growth can do to an economy. Did you see that dam they're building?

gingerbill said:

nuclear has obviously had bad press due to some accidents but at the end of the day its still far safer and better than the alternatives . People seem to think electricity magically appears from nowhere and constantly moan about oil . Electric cars are no better for the enviroment than petrol/diesel cars.

I've been to 2 nuclear plants in england and you feel a lot safer there than at a coal mine or an oil platform. And those plants are very old technology , you have to laugh when you see the inside of them , its like a 1930's sci-fi film with big dials everywhere .

pjamme said:

Tomorrow_Rains said:

If oil doesn't need to be used to run these things then by all means. Because literally...The world is out of Oil Lol.

My 7th grade science teacher told us that in 1958!

Guest said:

the washing of the brain with soap and water you see

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

jeffz6 said:

I agree with burty117, lets put Bill's reactor in every car!

lol!... wait what? I never said that?

jonelsorel said:

You probably also think the present status quo regarding electric cars is just a coincidence, despite the brotherhood between oil and car industries.

No not at all, Have you ever thought that maybe your thinking a little too deeply into this? I severally doubt Oil companies are stopping the progress of electric cars, Probably more the fact that they cost more and are less convenient? I mean, say they do cost more because of Oil companies, they will still be a load of rubbish?

Per Hansson said:

red1776 said:

The brain washing has worked well on you I see!

You didn't stop to think WHY a diesel powered car is cheaper to own than an electric car?

This thread seems kind of fragmented. I have a question. What is the "brainwashing" you are referring to?

The first cars released in the 1890's where electric drive, than came petrol cars and surprassed them, which is not so strange when you look at the price of electricity at that time (See the link above to the TED talk about the nuclear reactor by Bill Gates, the price of electricity was tenfolds higher than what we have today, adjusted for inflation of course)

But then we have had 120 years of development for the petrol car, but almost none for the electric car, you don't find this strange?

What happens is the oil industry is so big so they just buy up all patents they can, therefore we have not seen any significant breakthroughs in battery capacity in the last 120 years...

For more info you can watch the documentary "who killed the electric car"

Lots of other equipment in the world depend on batteries, I'm pretty sure oil companies have not single handedly stopped all progress of batterie capacity breakthrough's but maybe due to the fact that its not easy? A bit like hydrogen powered cars, works a treat but no one can find an easy way of creating the stuff.

Also to note, Electric isn't cheap now either, sure it was higher back in 1890 but I wouldn't call it fantastically cheap at the moment either. Again though even if electric was cheaper, you still have the issue that the car costs more to run and buy plus it takes 30+ hours to charge?

I'm not standing up for Oil companies by the way, I hate them as much as the next person, but the idea of them down right stopping a break through in Battery technology since the 1890'a is just plain silly...

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Burty117: Each year there is a new amazing discovery in battery technology that the devs say will improve battery capacity and charging times tenfold, I've read these news for as long as I have lived, always from different researches.

In the end we have not seen any big improvement in battery capacity, and you think this is not strange?

Also it does not take 30+ hours to charge an electric car, there are services offering battery swaps (like a gas station) done in less than 3 minutes.

And "normal" charging can be done in just a few hours, that is you park your car for the night and the next morning it will be fully charged

http://www.teslamotors.com/goelectric/charging

[link]

[link]

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Per Hansson said:

Burty117: Each year there is a new amazing discovery in battery technology that the devs say will improve battery capacity and charging times tenfold, I've read these news for as long as I have lived, always from different researches.

In the end we have not seen any big improvement in battery capacity, and you think this is not strange?

Also it does not take 30+ hours to charge an electric car, there are services offering battery swaps (like a gas station) done in less than 3 minutes.

And "normal" charging can be done in just a few hours, that is you park your car for the night and the next morning it will be fully charged

http://www.teslamotors.com/goelectric/charging

[link]

[link]

Then I guess i'm just talking from the UK, we don't have battery swap places, hell I believe for toyota to replace the battery costs around £7000.

Plenty of coverage has been done on electric cars in the UK and it does take 30 hours to charge an average elctric car over here, We don't have quick charge stations or anything fancy, just plug into the wall.

Also don't most technology's grow the same way? get better and better each year? We haven't had a massive breakthrough in a lot of everyday items, I would have thought we would have had a break through in kitchen utility's or the common home boiler but that simply hasn't happened.

Although I do wonder, why do you think Electric cars are the future?

Guest said:

Good idea but Thorium is the future of nuclear power. Surprised that China even bought some. They're installing a few Thorium reactors there as well...

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