Lewis Bentley Group – Bill Gates’ plans to build a nuclear traveling wave reactor that would tackle the world’s energy problems have been thrown off course by Trump’s trade war with China.
TerraPower, a company founded by Bill Gates, has developed a class of nuclear fast reactors that could provide the solution to the world’s energy crisis. Plans to partner with China to build the first prototype were finalized shortly before US president Donald Trump began the trade war with China. TerraPower signed an agreement with the China National Nuclear Corporation to build a prototype in Fujian province in China. Analysts at Lewis Bentley Group say one of the unfortunate implications of the trade war has been that plans to build the reactor have been placed on hold.
A new wave of nuclear technology
The travelling wave reactor (TWR) makes use of nuclear power but revolutionizes the design of previous nuclear power reactors. Lewis Bentley Group analysts say that while traditional nuclear power reactors have several drawbacks which have made them an unattractive choice for energy, Gates’ TWR presents an exciting technology that could change the way the world obtains electricity.
One of the problems with traditional nuclear reactors is the large amount of nuclear waste that is created as a byproduct when generating electricity. Nuclear reactors use enriched uranium. Only 10 percent of this highly radioactive material is actually used while the rest must be carefully stored as waste. At this time, the United States currently stores 700,000 metric tons of depleted uranium.
Gates’ TWR uses only a small amount of enriched uranium initially and then makes use of depleted uranium such as that which is found in stockpiles around the world. There is enough depleted uranium in a single field in the US to provide enough power for the country through just one reactor for more than 100 years.
Drawbacks of nuclear power
In addition to being extremely efficient and environmentally friendly, the TWR is extremely safe. Nuclear power has a bad reputation and has garnered unfavorable public opinion largely due to horrific accidents that have occurred at nuclear power stations. The most recent disaster occurred at Fukushima in Japan when power failed at the nuclear power station after an earthquake. Emergency diesel generators were destroyed by a tsunami wave that followed the seismic activity. The result was an explosion of several reactors. It is predicted that the clean up and decontamination of the surrounding area will take decades.
A solution to the energy crisis, Lewis Bentley
With the problem of climate change and its increasing threat to global economic expansion, Lewis Bentley Group analysts say a solution to the world’s energy crisis is a top priority. The TWR is a carbon free, safe and extremely efficient option. Gates and his company are currently lobbying congress to secure financial support for his energy initiative.