Can Bill Gates Provide America's Next 800 Years of Electricity?

He's transformed the personal computer, health outcomes in the developing world, and education opportunities in the U.S. For Bill Gates's next act, the Microsoft founder is trying to turn atomic trash into treasure.

September 26, 2013, 7:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


With a team of engineers, physicists and nuclear experts at the start-up TerraPower, Bill Gates and fellow billionaire Nathan Myhrvold are trying to develop "a new kind of nuclear reactor that would be fueled by today’s nuclear waste, supply all the electricity in the United States for the next 800 years and, possibly, cut the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation around the world," writes Matthew L. Wald.  

The complicated, and costly, process involves using uranium 238, the "mostly natural waste" produced by today's conventional nuclear reactors, and eliminates "several routes to weapons proliferation".

"The engineers working for Mr. Gates acknowledge the enormous challenges but say they are convinced that he, and they, are chasing the solution not only to energy and weapons proliferation but also to climate change and poverty," Wald adds.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in The New York Times

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President Joe Biden speaks at a podium in front of flags from the United States and Italy at the 2021 G20 conference in Rome, Italy.

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Senior Associate

Brailsford & Dunlavey

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Kendig Keast Collaborative

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.