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Rolls-Royce mini-nukes project under threat as Bill Gates eyes bid

Global interest comes as British company scrambles to secure government contract

By Gareth Corfield, 7 May 2023

Bill Gates is eyeing a bid to build Britain’s first mini-nuclear reactor in a direct challenge to Rolls-Royce which is scrambling to secure a government contract. Seattle-based TerraPower, which was founded by the Microsoft billionaire, said it was considering throwing its hat into the ring for lucrative contracts to build Britain’s next-generation small modular reactors or “mini-nukes”.

In a blog post, Mr Gates said the nuclear energy company’s work “has drawn interest from around the globe”, citing agreements with Japan, South Korea and the Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal steel conglomerate. TerraPower claims its travelling wave reactor design can “operate for centuries with unenriched uranium fuel”. Founded in 2006, the company secured $830m (£657m) in its most recent funding round last summer. Unlike many traditional SMR designs, the company’s plant, called Natrium, uses a molten salt heat storage system that will allow it to rapidly boost its power output at peak times.

Dozens of other nuclear energy startups are competing to bring their designs into
service, with Rolls-Royce competing against the likes of GE-Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Westinghouse Electric. In March, US company Last Energy, signed a deal to sell 24 small modular reactors (SMRs) to British customers. While Last Energy still needs regulatory approval for its designs, the company expects the first of its SMRs to be operational by 2026 with no government funding required.

Telegraph 7th May 2023


May 9, 2023 - Posted by | marketing

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