Toshiba and TerraPower aim to create a reactor that doesn't need to be refueled for 100 years

It's possible Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Toshiba have opened dialogue to  create a next-generation nuclear reactor able to run up to 100 years before it needs to be refueled, according to Japanese media reports.

Gates' TerraPower and Toshiba's Westinghouse reactor design company plan to develop the uranium-based Traveling-Wave Reactor (TWR) with 100,000 Kilowatts up to 1 million KW support.  

Until something is official between the two sides, and Toshiba will continue development on a reactor that needs to be refueled once every 30 years.  The Super-Safe, Small and Simple (4S) reactor is an ultra compact reactor that will likely have U.S. approval before the end of the year.

If there are no major hiccups, the reactor will be available before 2014.

Today's units need to be refueled every few years – using fuel based from depleted uranium can last significantly longer.  There is special need for these mini-reactors in developing nations, analysts say, with the price tag expected to lower in the future.

Since leaving his day-to-day role in Microsoft, Gates has become more involved in numerous other projects, including running his own charity along with overseeing TerraPower.  He is expected to invest millions of his own personal money into TWR development, which will help bring additional attention to the technology.

Gates aims to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, with TerraPower and other companies looking for the next major breakthrough.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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