Beth Buczynski

Bill Gates Teams Up With Korea to Develop Revolutionary "Cleaner" Nuclear Reactors

by , 08/20/12
filed under: energy efficiency, News

bill gates, toshiba, terrapower, nuclear power, nuclear reactor, nuclear energy, alternative energy, sustainable design, green design, clean techBill Gates photo from Shutterstock

Human beings have an amazing capacity for selective memory. Just over a year ago, Japan suffered through a massive nuclear fallout, the consequences of which are still being discovered. Rather than taking the Fukushima power plant disaster as a warning to steer clear of nuclear power, Korea seems undeterred – the country has teamed up with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to develop a revolutionary nuclear reactor that Gates claims will create far less radioactive waste than existing ones.

nuclear, Bill Gates, Korea, nuclear reactors, nuclear waste, Microsoft, radioactive waste

Not surprisingly, Gates isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart. In 2010, the software mogul announced that he had invested $35 million in a nuclear-power venture company TerraPower. Gates also agreed to act as Chairman for the start-up, whose mission is to make nuclear reactors smaller, cheaper and safer than those being built today. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was seeking a partner to help build the experimental reactor, and a country willing to host it, and it appears Korea has agreed to be the guinea pig. (Current reports fail to specify in which sovereign Korean state the reactor will be located. We can only assume it’s South Korea).

Gates met with the head of the Korean Nuclear Society, Chang Soon-heung, in Seattle on Thursday and agreed to cooperate in the development of a sodium-cooled fast reactor, the KNS said Sunday. SFRs are next-generation nuclear technology that can use spent nuclear fuel rods from conventional reactors (like those stockpiled in the image above) thus generating less nuclear waste.

+ TerraPower

Via Far East Gizmos

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3 Comments

  1. Rob de schutter August 21, 2012 at 6:55 am

    There is a lot to be said about nuclear energy. It is clear from the article that the journalist does not condone it. Aside from this being opinionated (as opposed to the objective, or at least looking at the two sides and then having an opinion)this article neglects or misrepresents the fact that these reactors can be used to downgrade the higly dangerous nuclear waste WE ALREADY HAVE in the world and greatly reduce it in volume and halflife. And yes it creates new power while doing this. I fail to see the downside of this. This type of reactor is a nuclear waste ‘recycler’ or ‘incinerator’ if you will.

  2. bthinker bthinker August 21, 2012 at 2:04 am

    He actually talked about what would become this in his TED talk years ago. It comes as no surprise to me SK hopped on this, they would like to further bulster their nuclear capability to NK which has been pitted against them for >10 years in the field. It could be a bad choice or an intentionally bad one, who knows.

  3. CopaceticOpus August 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I am surprised at the negativity of this article. It’s true that the recent Fukushima disaster is cause for reflection about the risks of nuclear power. On the other hand, a single incident at a plant with an outdated design does not warrant the severe backlash which we have seen lately.

    Nuclear power has definite risks. However, I believe there are even greater risks in rejecting it, because that will only increase our use of coal and gas. Fossil fuel based power does not carry the danger of fallout, but on the whole it has caused much greater damage to the environment and to our health than nuclear power ever has. The consequences of fossil fuels are going to become much worse as the fuel supply decreases, the population grows, and the stress on our environment worsens.

    Nuclear power is the only realistic option currently on the table to meet our power needs over the next 50-75 years. Alternative sources such as wind and solar will help, but can only provide a small percentage of the solution.

    I also think it’s funny to suppose that Gates is pursuing this project so that his $35 million investment in TerraPower will pay off. Are you familiar with his charitable work and the billions he has invested? He is not after riches at this point. He is trying to help solve the world’s most pressing problems by applying his money in intelligent, strategic ways. Our fossil fuel dependency is one of the greatest problems we face, so it’s no wonder he is investing in this way.

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