Bill Gates: Natrium power plant, ‘next nuclear breakthrough’ might be ready by 2030

Meanwhile, a start-up financed by Bill Gates has also revealed plans to develop a 1.2GW electrolyzer gigafactory in Massachusetts that would produce the "world's most powerful electrolyzers."
Baba Tamim
File photo: Bill Gates.
File photo: Bill Gates.

World Economic Forum 

Two significant projects launched by Bill Gates-backed enterprises are claimed to be accelerating the clean energy revolution in the United States. 

TerraPower, which he launched in 2008, is planning to develop a next-generation nuclear power station called 'Natrium,' which might be operational by 2030, according to a blog by the billionaire investor and Microsoft co-founder on Friday. 

"The world needs to make a big bet on nuclear," Gates said in the blog. "None of the other clean sources are as reliable, and none of the other reliable sources are as clean."

The Natrium project will employ liquid sodium to cool its reactor instead of conventional coolant water to address the major issues that nuclear energy presents. 

The chance of an explosion is decreased since the liquid sodium can absorb much more heat from the reactor without growing in pressure. Even if the plant loses electricity, it keeps cooling. 

In addition, the "next nuclear breakthrough" plant design incorporates a special energy storage technology that will facilitate integration with existing power systems. 

According to Gates, the facility's construction would bring roughly 1,600 workers to Kemmerer, Wyoming.

"I'm excited about this project because of what it means for the future. It's the kind of effort that will help America maintain its energy independence," he noted in the blog. 

Electric Hydrogen - 1.2GW electrolyzer gigafactory

Meanwhile, Electric Hydrogen (EH2), a start-up financed by Bill Gates, revealed plans to develop a 1.2GW electrolyzer gigafactory in Devens, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

Through economies of scale and a gigantic "low-cost and efficient" 100MW electrolyzer, the California-based business hopes to lower the cost of green hydrogen.

This is by far the largest and was designed from the ground up. By going big from the start, EH2 believes it can deliver lower-cost systems and cheaper green hydrogen.

"There are a lot of factory announcements in our industry, but not a lot of real capacity being built," said Raffi Garabedian, EH2's CEO, in a press release on Thursday.

"We have a backlog of customer orders to fulfill and are moving quickly to build and ship the world's most powerful electrolyzers."  

EH2 secured $198 million in Series B funding from influential backers like Amazon, Equinor, Rio Tinto, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries last year.

The company appears to be concentrating on manufacturing hydrogen for use in challenging industries rather than in areas like transportation or heating, where electric alternatives are easily accessible.

"Electric Hydrogen expects its technology to establish the standard for industry-wide cost reduction to make green hydrogen cheaper than fossil alternatives," read the press release.