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Bill Gates tours INL

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Bill Gates was at the Idaho National Laboratory on Wednesday. Gates, whose involvement in Microsoft have made him billions, is also chair of a nuclear reactor startup, TerraPower LLC. He toured the Materials and Fuels Complex with his staff.

On its website, Bellevue, Wash.-based TerraPower says its goal is to "provide the world with a more affordable, secure and environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy."

The INL is supporting certain aspects of design for a TerraPower traveling wave reactor.

TerraPower said this kind of reactor reduces the need for uranium, which results in cost savings and reduced waste. In a document describing the traveling wave reactor, TerraPower said this is possible because it uses depleted uranium rather than enriched uranium as its primary fuel. (Mobile readers, see In contrast, existing nuclear reactors can only burn less than 5 percent of their uranium fuel, TerraPower said.

"We enjoyed showing off our experienced researchers and one-of-a-kind capabilities for Mr. Gates," said Laboratory Director John Grossenbacher in an INL news release Thursday. "His interest in nuclear energy and INL's contributions helps the industry's future and reinforces the value of DOE's national laboratory complex."

Gates called his visit to INL enlightening.

"It was amazing to see reactor fuel analysis and how it can be conducted safely in a hot cell environment," he told INL employees, according to the news release.

The visit was not publicized until after the fact. On Tuesday, Local News 8 was unable to confirm Gates' visit with either the INL or Gates' media representatives.

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