The founder and former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has not been involved in the management of the software company for a long time, but ambitious projects for old Bill still have plenty. In one of them, under the name of TerraPower, Bill Gates recently signed a cooperation agreement with the largest US energy company Southern Company. And all in order to build “miniature” nuclear reactors.
The word “miniature” is taken in quotes for a reason, since the planned reactors will still be of decent size, but at times smaller than their “ordinary” counterparts. Specialists of the TerraPower project believe that small reactors are “cheaper and more efficient than their large counterparts.” At the moment the project is at the initial stage and scientists consult with experts from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University in order to assess the commercial side of the project. And the support of Southern Company will give the necessary finances to start construction.
At the moment, the test tests are scheduled for 2019 and their cost is estimated at 20 million US dollars. During the first phase of the test, the thermal hydraulics and safety analysis codes will be checked. According to TerraPower forecasts, one reactor will generate up to 1100 megawatts of electricity. The design will use liquid chloride salts for cooling and standard nuclear fuel components for the core of the reactor.
In this case, the mixture of salts is in a constant circulation, which can be used to generate heat or electricity. In addition, it is argued that due to the fact that the reactor will operate at a higher temperature than conventional analogs, it will be more energy efficient, and also less harmful to the environment.