Terrapower

TerraPower is a revolutionary company striving to provide generous amounts of safe, carbon-free energy with low-danger nuclear power. Thanks to TWR reactors it could lift many countries from poverty, and take on future world development without energy and pollution issues.

TerraPower Logo
Company logo.

Image source: https://www.terrapower.com

What Is TerraPower About?

TerraPower is an energy venture founded and backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The company aims to utilize its in-development technology of TWR to lift millions (or billions) out of poverty with free and abundant energy.


Just like other organizations and companies created by Gates, it tries to tackle global-scale problems in order to improve everyone’s life by sharing clean technology at a low cost to the world.

TerraPower Founder BIll Gates
Co-founder Bill Gates debuts TerraPower’s mini-reactor in 2020.

Image source: https://www.intelligentliving.co/bill-gates-mini-reactor-energy-storage/ by Andrea D. Steffen

TWR Design and Operation:

This project has put together a talented team capable of unmatched proficiency regarding nuclear engineering, event simulation, advanced modelling, finance and nuclear project management. Its innovative design will deliver higher thermal efficiency, cleaner and safer energy production and zero-carbon emissions, compared to traditional nuclear stations.

TWR works at atmospheric pressure, meaning there’s no chance of pressure-related failures. Traditional reactors are typically powered by uranium that has been enriched from its natural form; this is done to increase splittable isotopes so they’ll be able to release more energy into the reactor. TWR on the other hand can use depleted uranium (a waste byproduct coming from the uranium enrichment procedure) gradually turning it into fuel thanks to a nuclear reaction that prescinds its typical removal from the core. This gets rid of the reprocessing phase allowing the cores to continuously generate energy over a much longer and uninterrupted period of time.

Needless to say, this also saves money on fuel as it utilizes a byproduct, reduces proliferation issues and helps to safeguard the environment.

TWR reactor Concept
TWR reactor concept.

Image source: https://www.terrapower.com/about/

R&D:

TWR has been studied since the Fifties and, as expected, the current TerraPower design is still a work in progress.

Supercomputers perform simulations in order to perfect the framework of the reactor. Also, the outcomes are surprisingly positive: there is good evidence that this technology is viable and can work safely under certain (not impossible) conditions.

TWR are unique among reactors as they require a minimum fuel burn up in order to run properly. It’s a matter of upkeep of neutrons: an adequate amount of them must be engrossed by the depleted uranium before it can turn into “viable fuel”.

Supercomputers perform simulations in order to perfect the framework of the reactor and the outcomes are surprisingly positive: there is good evidence that this technology is viable and can work safely. The big pro in all of this is unlimited energy production, which is a far too big advantage to be ignored by scientists and engineers who work on this project.

Bill Gates himself, as a charitable action, personally backs the research to make this tech possible.

TWR's candle reactor
TWR’s “candle” reactor, burning fuel in its unique axial direction.

Image source: https://www.ee.co.za/article/the-travelling-wave-nuclear-reactor.html Author:Mike Rycroft

Potential Benefits: What Does This Technology Mean?

TWR are inimitable in their capability to reach highly-sustainable operations. Current uranium stockpiles could last thousands of years, instead of the foreseeable few hundreds made possible with nowadays nuclear tech.

Close-to-free energy, zero carbon emissions, high thermal performance, low nuclear waste, financial benefits coming from a near-endless (and very profitable) surplus power production.

This opens many paths to the greener future that we need to embrace, but also be prepared for.

A billet of higly enriched uranium
A billet of highly enriched uranium: the waste produced in its creation is the fuel of a TWR reactor.

Image source: https://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/U/uranium.html

Info source:

https://www.terrapower.com/our-work/traveling-wave-reactor-technology/

https://www.geekwire.com/2020/terrapower-advances-plans-next-gen-nuclear-plants-earning-bill-gates-praise/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TerraPower#Traveling_wave_reactor

https://whatisnuclear.com/twr.html

https://www.intelligentliving.co/bill-gates-mini-reactor-energy-storage/

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