New US rules have forced a nuclear energy venture chaired by Bill Gates, to abandon an agreement with China. In 2017, TerraPower had reached an agreement with state-owned China National Nuclear Corp to build an experimental nuclear (travelling-wave) reactor. But because of United States new restrictions on technology deals with China, the company has to now look for an alternative partner.
According to RT, TerraPower’s existing deal has effectively been nullified by the new restrictions which came into effect in October by the US Department of Energy. This has prevented most nuclear business deals with China. Gates said US laws are ‘too restrictive’ to allow the prototype to be built at home. In an interview with the WSJ, TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said they are regrouping. “Maybe we can find another partner. TerraPower has been working with China on the project, which would have seen a prototype reactor built south of Beijing, for three years.”
US Energy secretary Rick Perry said the new Energy Department regulations don’t prohibit all nuclear deals with China. “But they do require a solid guarantee that the technology won’t be used for unauthorized purposes, specifically military.”
Experts say travelling-wave reactors assure a high degree of safety at low cost. It is a type of small modular reactor and less costly to produce than larger reactors. In March 2018, TerraPower had achieved significant success in the development of this advanced nuclear reactor design. Experts applauded TerraPower’s significant success as the construction of a travelling-wave reactor (TWR) engineering simulator is an important milestone. It puts engineers in the control room of a virtual TWR system to study the reactor’s operation from start-up to full power.
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