Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nuke reactors to power your home? Bill Gates Thinks So

Perhaps if Obama stalls long enough, his friend Bill Gates will get a foothold on the nuclear energy field. All jokes aside, if this technology matures, it could be the answer to the disposal of the radioactive waste from conventional nuclear power plants and also provide cheap clean energy for the future.

Bill Gates announced last week that his start-up company, TerraPower LLC, is ready to build and test a small-scale nuclear reactor that theoretically could power a local community for decades without having to be refueled.

The TerraPower traveling-wave reactor is designed to be buried in the ground, where it would run for 100 years.

Describing how the reactor would work, the Wall Street Journal explained last week that enriched uranium would shoot neutrons into the depleted uranium making up approximately 90 percent of the fuel.

That process would produce plutonium, designed to burn slowly in a controlled reaction that would continue over many years without the need of human intervention.

The Wall Street Journal also pointed out that large supplies of depleted uranium are available as a byproduct of today's water-cooled nuclear reactors.

Gates was intrigued by the potential for small nuclear reactors to produce cheap, zero-carbon energy and its ability to turn what is a waste product (depleted uranium) into fuel.

Read full article here.

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