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.

  • 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.

  • 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.