Bill Gates’ nuclear power company to help build $ 170 million experimental nuclear reactor in Idaho


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.Paul Richards / AFP via Getty Images

  • Bill Gates’ TerraPower is helping build another nuclear reactor, this time in Idaho.

  • He’s teaming up with utility Southern Company on an experimental molten chloride fast reactor.

  • The Department of Energy is funding 80% of the $ 170 million project, Bloomberg reported.

Bill Gates’ nuclear power company TerraPower is helping build a small experimental nuclear reactor in Idaho that is expected to cost $ 170 million.

The project is led by gas and power giant Southern Company, which plans to use TerraPower’s technology to develop a molten chloride fast reactor, according to the Southern statement.

It comes shortly after TerraPower, founded by Gates 15 years ago, said it chose the coal town of Kemmerer in Wyoming as the prime location for its first advanced nuclear power plant “Natrium”.

The Idaho project is different from TerraPower’s liquid sodium nuclear reactor in Wyoming because it uses molten chloride. This means it can operate at higher temperatures than traditional nuclear reactors and is a carbon-free power source, according to Southern’s statement. The five-year project is designed to test, research and develop molten chloride fast reactors.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is funding 80% of the $ 170 million nuclear reactor project – the rest of the money will come from Southern, TerraPower and other companies involved, Bloomberg reported.

In 2015, Southern and TerraPower received $ 40 million from DoE to build the infrastructure for molten chloride fast reactors, according to Southern’s statement.

The experimental nuclear reactor will provide less than 500 kilowatts of power, but a commercial version could produce around 720 megawatts, Southern program manager Lauren Lathem told Bloomberg.

By comparison, the TerraPower nuclear power plant in Wyoming is expected to provide 500 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes, TerraPower said in a statement.

Idaho’s reactor is expected to come on stream in 2026, Southern Lathem told Bloomberg.

TerraPower did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Southern considers TerraPower’s technology “important to a clean and sustainable energy future,” the statement said.

“The molten chloride reactor experiment will continue this important work in a critical reactor experiment, leading to the successful development of clean, low-cost energy for the future,” said Chris Levesque, President and CEO from TerraPower, in the press release.

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