Thursday, December 15, 2011

TerraPower Seeks Wisdom in China

Bill Gates went to Beijing, but he didn't ink a deal, yet 

billgatesTerraPower, the privately-held nuclear reactor development firm  funded by the Gates Foundation, got a lot of ink in the world press last week.  The reason was that Microsoft billionaire and its former CEO Bill Gates (right) held a high profile press conference during a visit to Beijing, China.

However, no deal was inked with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) nor were any side agreements reached for joint R&D.

The intense press coverage about an intriguing reactor design that just recently emerged from a major makeover in a supercomputer simulation was more about Bill Gates in China than anything else.

The Chinese said it themselves. The China Daily for December 8 wrote that Zhang Laiwu, vice-minister of science and technology said,

"When we cooperate with Gates, what we value so much is not Gates' money, but his social influence, his rallying power, and his innovation ability."

What is the TerraPower reactor?

The question is whether there is a real reactor design that could be built. TerraPower thinks so, but is quick to caution in a statement on its website that the firm is talking to multiple nations including Russia and India about development opportunities.

Last June a delegation of TerraPower executives went to India to explore ideas there. In November 2009 Gates visited Toshiba in Japan to discuss joint R&D efforts.

For a an in-depth look at TerraPower’s prospects, and a review of some of the top level technical challenges, go to ANS Nuclear Cafe where the story is online now.

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