Bill Gates is sinking “several billion dollars” into a project with Toshiba to develop small-scale efficient nuclear reactors that burn spent uranium.
Toshiba, which owns U.S. nuclear firm Westinghouse, has been working on the so-called traveling-wave reactors (TWRs) for several years.
TerraPower, which is backed by Gates, is in preliminary talks with Toshiba to build TWRs that would be able to run for up to 100 years without refueling.
Toshiba already has been developing TWRs with a refueling span of 30 years under the 4S (Super-Safe, Small and Simple) model reactor, which may enter production by 2014, reports PCMag.
One hurdle to commercialization is developing materials that can withstand extended-length nuclear reactions.
The reactors are small – “small enough to fit in a hot tub,” in fact, according to Fast Company.