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Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue-based patent firm and invention house run by former Microsoft tech chief Nathan Myhrvold, says in a new blog post that the current crisis surrounding Japan’s nuclear plants shouldn’t cast a shadow over its TerraPower next-generation nuclear initiative.

“In response to inquiries concerning TerraPower’s technology, the traveling wave technology is unlike any design built today,” they write, referring to the reactor technology at the core of their project. “Comparing our design with the reactors at the center of the crisis in Japan is like comparing a Ford Model T with a Volvo S80.”

The post goes on to explain the TerraPower technology, and how it differs from traditional nuclear plants.

Our design uses fast reactor technology, not the light water technology used at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The TerraPower design requires no spent fuel pools and uses cooling systems that require no power to function. These two features alone would avoid the major problems encountered with light water technology. The key innovation in our Traveling Wave Reactor is its ability to sustain a fission reaction in a new, contained way with a reactor vessel that is sealed for 40 years or longer.

Safety is our top priority and we remain committed to defining a simple fuel cycle that ensures our plants operate safely no matter the conditions. As economists predict greater pressure on energy prices as a result of this crisis, inventing solutions to the issues that challenge nuclear energy will be paramount to Japan’s – and the world’s – recovery.

Bill Gates, who participates in brainstorming sessions with Myhrvold’s firm,  is among the investors in the TerraPower project.

Hat tip to Xconomy, which posted earlier on the IV response.

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