Bill Gates must be tired of wearing so many hats.
Gates, best known for his recent push on vaccines, and co-founding Microsoft, helped co-found a not-so-well-known company called TerraPower “A Nuclear Innovation Company”, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.
According to the company’s website “TerraPower’s innovators create technologies to provide safe, affordable, and abundant carbon-free energy. They devise ways to use heat to drive economic growth while decarbonizing industry. And they develop processes to extract radioisotopes for medical use in lifesaving cancer treatments.”
In 2008 the company officially launched as a nuclear innovation company. According to the website timeline, in 2015 “TerraPower signs a memorandum of understanding for cooperation with China National Nuclear Corporation for TWR program development.”
According to the South China Morning Post article in 2011, Gates is “working with us to conduct research on a new type of nuclear reactor and jointly develop [it] with CNNC,’ said Sun, who heads China’s top nuclear developer, overseeing military and civilian programmes.” Going on to say, “For Gates, China could not be a better partner to work with, given the country’s vast market for nuclear energy,’ the professor said.”
In 2016, during the Obama administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Gates’ TerraPower company $40 million for the design, testing, and research of a molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR) project. In 2017 TerraPower went into an agreement with China to co-develop “TWR Technology”, or traveling wave technology that activates at atmospheric pressure, says it will offer 30 times more efficient use of mined uranium, claiming zero emissions. Later, the DEO also awarded Gates TerraPower another $80 million.
Unfortunately, Gates hit a snag in 2019 and had to cease his deal with China, and looked onward for another partnership, which he found with Japan.
“TerraPower reached an agreement with state-owned China National Nuclear Corp in 2017 to build an experimental nuclear reactor south of Beijing. But Gates wrote in an essay published late last week that TerraPower is unlikely to follow through on its plans in the face of new U.S. restrictions on technology deals with China”, according to a Reuters article in 2019.
In 2021 TerraPower and PacifiCorp advanced a reactor project at a retired coal plant in Wyoming. Currently, the company is hiring 42 jobs in their Bellevue, Washington location and 9 positions in Everett, Washington.