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Published on February 2nd, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz


TerraPower Developing Nuclear Reactors that Run on Depleted Uranium

February 2nd, 2009 by  

Perhaps the uranium industry’s fear of peak uranium is unfounded. Intellectual Ventures is preparing to spin off a company called TerraPower to develop nuclear reactors that run primarily on depleted uranium. While most nuclear reactors use enriched uranium, the depleted variety has many advantages— most importantly, a smaller amount of uranium is required to create the same amount of power.

Since less uranium is necessary, the risk of nuclear proliferation is reduced, as is the amount of toxic waste created. According to TerraPower, available supplies of depleted uranium could be used for centuries— maybe even thousands of years.

The company’s reactors will vary from only a few megawatts (enough for industrial sites) to multi-gigawatts (enough for large cities). TerraPower may also use thorium to power future reactor sites.

Photo Credit: CC-Licensed by Flickr user bionerd 

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

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