But of all his green investments, Gates has spent the most time and money pursuing a breakthrough in nuclear energy — arguing it’s key to a zero carbon future.
He says he’s a big believer in wind and solar and thinks it can one day provide up to 80% of the country’s electricity, but Gates insists unless we discover an effective way to store and ship wind and solar energy, nuclear power will likely have to do the rest. Energy from nuclear plants can be stored so it’s available when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.
Anderson Cooper: Were you always a big proponent of nuclear?
In 2008 he founded TerraPower, a company that has re-designed a nuclear reactor.
NC State Nuclear joins the Terrapower – GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Natrium Team as recipients of the DOE ADRP
The US Department of Energy (DOE), under the Advanced Reactor Development Program (ADRP), has awarded TerraPower, LLC (Bellevue, WA) and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) (Wilmington, NC) $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors. These reactors will be delivered for licensing within seven years. NC State University professors are contributors to both awards.
The teaming agreement in place with Terrapower-GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy include Drs. Dinh and Gupta.
“This advanced nuclear technology features a cost-competitive sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system. Building on the technology used in solar thermal generation, Natrium energy storage and flexible power production will offer abundant clean energy in time to help meet climate goals.
The Natrium technology’s novel architecture simplifies previous reactor types. Non-nuclear mechanical, electrical, and other equipment will be housed in separate structures, reducing complexity and cost. The design is intended to permit significant cost savings by allowing major portions of the plant to be built to industrial standards. Improvements use fewer equipment interfaces and reduce the amount of nuclear-grade concrete by 80% compared to large reactors. Natrium reactors are designed to provide firm, flexible power that seamlessly integrates into power grids with high penetrations of renewables.”
Dr. Nam Dinh is a professor of nuclear engineering. He focusses on modeling and analysis of multi-phase thermal-fluid phenomena of importance to nuclear reactor design and safety. His group is developing a laboratory for Multiphase Multiphysics Validation Experiments that support research projects on micro-hydrodynamics in multi-phase systems with phase changes; two-phase thermal-hydraulics system modeling, simulation, model calibration and prediction’s uncertainty quantification; and, severe accident risk assessment and management.
Dr. Abhinav Gupta is a professor of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering as well as director of the Center for Nuclear Energy Facilities and Structures. His research involves modeling experimental and analytical behavior of structures, non-classically damped primary-secondary systems, earthquake behavior of electrical instruments and control panels, buried pipelines, and computer-aided engineering.
Read up on the Terrapower – X-energy teaming agreement with Drs. Ivanov, Hawari, Avramova, Hou and Diaconeasa.