Bill Gates Goes Nuclear With Toshiba's 4S Reactor

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Bill Gates is going atomic. The Microsoft founder's startup TerraPower is partnering with Toshiba to build a traveling-wave reactor. These reactors run on depleted uranium, rather than the enriched sort found in light-water reactors, only have to be refueled every 60 to 100 years, and are small enough to fit in a hot tub. it is all part of Gates' quest for zero carbon emissions in the next 40 years.

Toshiba has been working on its own mini nuclear reactors with a 30-year shelf life, making it the perfect partner for the software magnate-turned-philanthropist. Its 4S model (Super-Safe, Small and Simple) is expected to get U.S. approval this year, and Toshiba is hoping to start production by 2014.

4S Reactor

It's not clear whether Gates is simply joining in the development of the 4S, or collaborating on a separate model. The technology will not be commercially available for the next decade or so, according to The New York Times. The Nikkei is also claiming that Gates might invest several billion dollars of his own fortune in the project.

depleted uranium

[Image Via Flickr]

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  • Rick Peterson

    Perhaps Bill Gates should consider assisting in developing a thorium reactor. That technology has already been proven about 30 years ago with a demonstration reactor built by our government. The program was largely discontinued because it did not produce any material that could be used in bombs. Apparently the reactors can be small and quite safe. The French, I believe, are still studying the concepts. India is naturally interested because of the availability of thorium in its beach sands. Economic extraction, however, may be a problem.

  • Adam Mygrants

    It does not expel depleted uranium. The depleted uranium they refer to is due to the US use of depleted uranium for manufacture of tank shells. You could lick the stuff every morning with no ill effects. Start launching it as a ballistic projectile however, and it may be distributed a bit more liberally. Being that destruction is a valuable trait in tank munitions, this is not of overly high concern that the 60 ton main battle tanks engaging hostile enemy combatants in a fight to the death might leave a bit of a mess in the wake of it's armored cavalry charge. In the case of the reactor, it will not be discharging any Uranium, depleted or otherwise.

  • Tom DeSantis

    At what point do these "poor black people" do for themselves - either produce or move to a more fertile place? In my lifetome I hope - so sick of this picture! And Bill Gates, sorry, but it's pure human arrogance to think we humans have anything to do with any sort of global warming or can do anything about it. It's in God's hands as always.

  • Adam Mygrants

    While global warming is certainly a natural occurrence, (There is an ice age currently in decline after all) the actions of humanity have certainly hastened a process that would take very much longer to occur if we did not do the things we do. Nature would not have produced the CFCs that we created and unleashed into the atmosphere with our careless innovations. It works far better as a greenhouse gas than anything else. Our careless use of Lead has also been effectively irreparable, though it is more to our own detriment then the climate. If you tried READING your bible, you would see that God will let us do as we please, even to the destruction of ourselves. If this was not the case, God would not allow people to be sinners at all. Such is our gift of free will that God will stand by and watch us wipe ourselves from the face of the planet if we should embrace ignorance, just as he will stand by and watch us deny him to the detriment of our souls.

  • Denny Crane

    Thanks to science-illiterate religious nincompoops like you that wish to sit on their hands and impede real problem solvers, the future of our children will suffer immeasurably.

  • Adam Mygrants

    Denny: disregard of science, reason, and logic is not a trait inherent to religion. It is simply that those people prone to such disregard will likely turn to religion. Science asks "How", Religion asks "Why". They are not competing concepts and we should all strive to realize that.
    While some people of religion would ignore reason and take the words of their text to be unwavering literal truth, such as insisting that the universe was created in 6 days despite a day having no meaning until the Earth and Sun exist, and ignoring that it was MEN, not god who wrote such text. So too are there ignorant Scientists who proclaim results without proper testing, relying instead on sketchy surveys and statistics and ignoring oh so often that correlation is not causation. And men such as Niel DeGrasse Tyson who would ridicule religion as if in must be destroyed for science to progress when it has progressed just fine for ages, and scientists are just as doggedly rigged.