TerraPower is working on the detailed design for a Traveling Wave Reactor that can effectively convert and consume actinide isotopes that are often considered to be waste products in a traditional light water reactor. The company was spun out of Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures after the team’s design progress attracted the attention of Bill Gates and Massachusetts-based venture capital firm Charles River Ventures (CRV).
The latest Series B round of financing, which added $35 million to the company’s resource base, attracted Khosla Ventures as a new partner. It is refreshing to see that the company’s progress has been favorably reviewed by people who are risking private capital based on their expectations of success and a return on their investment. Of course, it never hurts to have names like Gates, Myhrvold and now Khosla associated with your developing company.
Based on some twitter posts from the American Nuclear Society annual meeting being held in San Diego this week, TerraPower has been attracting a lot of attention. I highly recommend following TheJohnWheeler. Here is an example of his coverage at the meeting:
TheJohnWheeler: TerraPower, rock star of #nuclear companies presents the TP-1 plant design to a standing room only crowd @ #ans10 targeting 1st ops in 2020
The hashtag of #ans10 will help you find more posts from the meeting. I am expecting some similar reactions to a press conference that will be held this afternoon to introduce one more entry into the small modular reactor race – Advanced Reactor Concepts, another venture capital funded start-up company with some technically impressive team members, invited me to their coming out party, but I will not be able to be there in person.
There are a number other exciting project teams like NuScale, Hyperion, and the more established and traditional B&W and Toshiba that are working hard – using significant injections of private capital from previously skeptical investors – to develop concepts that have been languishing without much financial support for a couple of decades. This is a development that is sure to bring out some interesting groups of critics, but it will be fun to watch and participate in the discussions.
GreentechMedia (June 15, 2010) – $35M for TerraPower: Is Nuclear Power Green?
New Papyrus (May 1, 2010) – Traveling Wave Reactor Videos