Gates startup Terrapower wants to build a nuclear power plant

The US startup Terrapower, co-founded by Bill Gates, wants to build its first small nuclear power plant. The US company Terrapower wants to build a new type of reactor. It is to be built on the site of a coal-fired power station that will soon be shut down.

Terrapower is developing a so-called Small Modular Reactor (SMR). These reactors are smaller than those previously built. They should be less complex and safer. Terrapower announced that it will build such an SMR in the US state of Wyoming. The company does not want to announce the exact location until the end of the year.

The reactor that Terrapower is planning will be a molten salt reactor that will be cooled with sodium. It should have an output of 345 megawatts. If necessary, the output can be increased to 550 megawatts. For comparison: the still active part of the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant in Bavaria delivers 1,344 megawatts. The construction of the demonstration plant is expected to cost around one billion US dollars and take about seven years.

SMRs are supposed to help reduce nuclear waste

The SMRs should be able to be operated with uranium from spent fuel rods or from atomic bombs. Proponents of the technology argue that the new power plants could help reduce nuclear waste.

Terrapower was founded in 2016. In founding Microsoft founder Bill Gates was involved, who is also one of the main investors. In addition to molten salt reactors (MSR), the technology and research company also develops travelling-wave reactors (TWR).

After the reactor accident in Fukushima in Japan, Germany had finally decided to phase out nuclear energy. The view is different elsewhere. There, nuclear energy is considered clean because it does not emit carbon dioxide.

“This is the fastest and clearest way for us to go carbon negative,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. “Nuclear energy is clearly part of my overall energy strategy.” Wyoming is the state with the highest coal production in the United States.

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