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US restrictions stymie Bill Gates-backed nuclear firm's pilot project in China

TerraPower LLC, a nuclear energy technology company backed by philanthropist and Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, is unlikely to test its advanced nuclear reactor technology in China due to recent policy changes in U.S., Gates wrote in a Dec. 29, 2018, blog post.

The firm is developing a traveling wave reactor that would use depleted uranium as its fuel. In October 2017, TerraPower partnered with China National Nuclear Corp. to form Global Innovation Nuclear Energy Technology Co. Ltd. and collaborate on designing and commercializing the technology. But the Trump administration's recent restrictions on China "have made that unlikely," Gates wrote.

The U.S. Department of Energy on October 2018, imposed limitations on China's imports of civil nuclear technology in an effort to prevent its use for military or other unauthorized means. A U.S. congressional panel on November 2018, also cited China's technology manufacturing capabilities as a threat to U.S. national security.

Gates said the nuclear reactor pilot project may now be built in the U.S., subject to policy changes and funding opportunities for nuclear power research. "Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago," Gates wrote in the blog post. "To regain this position, it will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it's serious."