According to the Wall Street Journal, Gates and Toshiba are coordinating to develop small-scale nuclear reactors through TerraPower, a company run by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold and partially run on funding from Gates.
Gates specifically backs a new a new type of reactor known as a traveling wave reactor (TWR). As he explained in a February keynote at TED, a TWR could actually use the depleted uranium currently being produced as a waste product of existing nuclear reactors. According to Gates, just the existing waste currently squirreled away in hazardous waste sites could power the U.S. for two centuries. Each reactor would potentially produce between a few hundred watts and a gigawatt of energy – enough to power a small city.
Toshiba has been working independently toward a similar goal: a small-scale nuclear reactor that can run for 30 years continuously. So far, Gates and Toshiba haven’t announced any official collaboration, but are in talks that could lead to joint investment and development.