The Dual Focus


Looks like Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates may have an evil genius side after all. He is helping to fund an energy start-up that may hold the key to ultra low emission and maintenance mega power production. Intellectual Ventures is the name of the company that is partially funded by Bill Gates and has a unit called TerraPower. TerraPower, run by a former Microsoft Corp. executive, Nathan Myhrvold, is reported to be in preliminary discussions with Toshiba Corp. on developing a small-scale underground nuclear reactor that would make nuclear power safer and cheaper.

A spokesman from Toshiba said the two sides were talking about how they could collaborate on the nuclear technology. He also said that discussions were still in the early stages and that nothing has been decided on investments or development.

These reports come from Japan however TerraPower said it has been meeting with the “nuclear community” and presenting at conferences but declined to comment on whether they met with Toshiba. So it would seem that Toshiba likes the idea more than most perhaps.

TerraPower has been publicly saying that its reactor technology could run for decades on depleted uranium without refueling or removing spent fuel from the device, making it safer and cheaper not to mention more socially acceptable than today’s reactors. Even Bill Gates has described the device in interviews as being able to run buried deep under ground and capable of operating without human intervention, however would take years to develop. Currently the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn’t have a certification process for these type of reactors.

Toshiba on the other hand is developing a reactor that can operate continuously for 30 years. Along with TerraPower a small player in a field of established concerns trying to develop smaller, and safer nuclear reactors. Nuclear and Defense supplier General Atomics said it is working on a smaller nuclear reactor that would run on spent fuel, back in February.

As President Barack Obama is trying to spur new investments in nuclear power with over $8 billion in government loan guarantees announced back in February, Bill Gates’ recent focus on nuclear power is said to be fueled by an interest in developing new power systems for developing countries. He also has made public his interest in combating climate change.

Green home living is nothing new to the Gates household who boasts much of their home in the ground where the climate can be controlled more efficiently. Bill also being a fan of using dual monitors on his desktop, has multiple screens and computer monitors throughout his home. Miles of communication cable, much of which is fiber optic, runs throughout the house, linking computer servers powered by the Windows NT operating system. You can walk through the house while your favorite movie or soundtrack follows you into each room.

Read How Bill Gates rolls in the Office to learn more:)