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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Bill Gates Touts Safety Of New Wyoming Nuke Power Plant

Bill Gates is betting that the nuclear power plant designed by his company Terra Power will be the model for safe nuke plants owing to the technology it is deploying—liquid sodium—to absorb the heat at the core of the facility.

Photo Insert: The Microsoft founder said the Natrium plant designed by TerraPower will be the most advanced nuclear facility in the world, and it will be much safer and produce far less waste than conventional reactors.



In an essay for his GatesNotes, the Microsoft founder said the Natrium plant designed by TerraPower will be the most advanced nuclear facility in the world, and it will be much safer and produce far less waste than conventional reactors. I’ll start with improved safety.


Keep in mind that America’s current fleet of nuclear plants has been operating safely for decades—in fact, in terms of lives lost, nuclear power is by far the safest way to produce energy.



And this new facility in Kemmerer will be even better. Like other power plant designs, it uses heat to turn water into steam, which moves a turbine, which generates electricity.


And like other nuclear facilities, it generates heat by splitting uranium atoms in a chain reaction. But that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. A typical reactor keeps the atom-splitting nuclear reaction under control by circulating water around a uranium core.


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

But using water as a coolant presents two challenges. First, water isn’t very good at absorbing heat—it turns to steam and stops absorbing heat at just 100 degrees C.


Second, as the water gets hot, its pressure goes up, which puts strain on your pipes and other equipment. It turns out that, by comparison, liquid metals can absorb a monster amount of heat while maintaining consistent pressure.


Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

The Natrium plant uses liquid sodium, whose boiling point is more than 8 times higher than water’s, so it can absorb all the extra heat generated in the nuclear core.


Unlike water, sodium doesn’t need to be pumped, because as it gets hot, it rises, and as it rises, it cools off. Even if the plant loses power, the sodium just keeps absorbing heat without getting to a dangerous temperature that would cause a meltdown.





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