TerraPower announces new CEO

terrapower logoTerraPower of Bellvue, WA, announced July 15 that it has appointed Lee McIntire, former Chairman and CEO of CH2M HILL, as CEO. According to a statement by TerraPower on its website, McIntire has deep experience in leading and growing large multi-billion dollar international companies.

Under his leadership, TerraPower plans to advance the Travelinjg Wave Reactor (TWR), a sodium cooled fast reactor that is fueled by depleted uranium, into the execution phase. The company said McIntire’s roles is to secure customers for the technology and identify product integration opportunities,

LeeMcIntirePreviously, McIntire (left) served as Chairman and CEO of CH2M HILL from 2009 to 2014. CH2M HILL is a Fortune 500, employee-owned company and a leader in consulting, engineering and program management.

Prior to joining CH2M HILL, McIntire was a Partner and Executive Vice President, and served on the Board of Directors of the privately held Bechtel Corporation from 1989 to 2004. McIntire holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska College of Civil Engineering, and a master’s degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.

Gileland to be CTO

John Gilleland, formerly the CEO, will now be TerraPower’s Chief Technology Officer. Gilleland said in a statement posted on the firm’s website,

“This stage in our business evolution requires a transition from a founding, entrepreneurial Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to a highly experienced business executive. To accomplish these goals, I am moving to the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). As TerraPower’s technology evangelist, I will focus on being the long-term product visionary working to expand product capabilities and to de-risk disruptive technologies.”

He added, “The addition of Lee accelerates our efforts to move the TWR from a research and development project to a fully marketable nuclear reactor.”

Profile of reactor design

According to the company, TerraPower’s traveling wave reactor (TWR) is a Generation IV, liquid sodium-cooled fast reactor based on existing fast reactor technologies. Innovations in metallic fuel, cladding materials and engineering allow a TWR to utilize depleted uranium as its primary fuel.

The firm notes that these innovations simplify the nuclear fuel cycle by eliminating or reducing the need for enrichment, reprocessing, and waste storage and disposal. Fissile fuel is both produced and then consumed in-reactor, greatly improving the fuel efficiency of the TWR and resource availability for the reactor.

Gates seeks global partnerships

TerraPower’s Chairman of the Board is Bill Gates, formerly the CEO of Microsoft. Gates has served as chairman of TerraPower since 2006. In recent years, Gates has visited China at least three times to seek cooperation with the Chinese side on developing a next-generation nuclear reactor.

While in Beijing Feb 9, 2015, Gates met with Nur Bekri, director of China’s National Energy Administration. English language news media in China reported they held in-depth discussion on a US-China traveling wave reactor project. Gates also met with Sun Qin president of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), China’s largest nuclear energy company and TerraPower’s main partner in China.

Separately, TerraPower has a collaboration with Russia’s Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors which has resulted in the establishment of an irradiation fuel program for TWR development.

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