Bill Gates wants to build a newer, safer nuclear reactor. | Miles O'Brien Productions

Bill Gates wants to build a newer, safer nuclear reactor.

There’s some renewed interest in TerraPower, the Bill Gates-backed company that’s trying to make a long-time dream of nuclear reactors a mainstay of the industry.

Most nuclear reactors around the world are water-cooled, a design chosen because the Navy was the first to develop usable reactors for their nuclear submarines. Water-cooled designs were considered safer than alternatives, but TerraPower has good reason to think their sodium-cooled design will actually be inherently safer.

Oh, and, by the way, it can run on the nuclear waste of other reactors:

For more, you can watch our PBS NOVA show, The Nuclear Option. We interviewed TerraPower board vice chairman Nathan Myhrvold, who explained how their nuclear reactor design will work and how it is safer. If you want to skip directly there, that section starts at 42:17.

Having baseline, carbon-free energy is crucial as we transition to a renewable energy society. In a Miles O’Brien Productions exclusive, Myhrvold puts the world of energy into context using the handy analogy of toasters.

Banner image credit: TerraPower.

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