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Bill Gates and China may build nuclear reactor


Computing billionaire Bill Gates has confirmed he is discussing developing a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor with China.

"The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste," said the Microsoft co-founder in Peking.

Mr Gates has largely funded a US company, TerraPower, that is developing a reactor that can run on depleted uranium.

"TerraPower is having very good discussions with various people in the Chinese government," he said, cautioning that they were at an early stage.

He said as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.

TerraPower says its "travelling wave reactor" would run for decades on depleted uranium and produce significantly smaller amounts of nuclear waste than conventional reactors.

"All these new designs are going to be incredibly safe," Mr Gates said. "They require no human action to remain safe at all times."

He said they also benefit from an ability to simulate earthquake and tidal wave conditions. "It takes safety to a new level," he said.

Since leaving Microsoft, Mr Gates has concentrated on philanthropy and advocating on public health, education and clean energy issues.

He was in China to talk about a joint project between China and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support innovative research and development to help alleviate poverty.

"China has a lot to contribute because it's solved many of the problems of poverty, not all of them but a lot of them, itself, and many Asian, south Asian and African countries are well behind, whether it's agriculture or health," he said.