TerraPower

John Gilleland

Chief Technical Officer

John Gilleland

John Gilleland is the Chief Technical Officer of TerraPower LLC, a company founded by Bill Gates (Chairman), Nathan Myhrvold (Vice Chairman) and Dr. Gilleland in 2008 to focus on achievement of improved nuclear safety, proliferation resistance, energy security and economic power for all countries.

From 2008 to 2015, Dr. Gilleland served as TerraPower’s CEO. Under his leadership, TerraPower transitioned from an idea to a globally recognized center for innovation and development of new nuclear reactors and other advanced nuclear systems. Dr. Gilleland now serves as the company’s technology evangelist, focusing on the long-term product vision and feasibility of TerraPower’s best-known product, the traveling wave reactor.

Previously, Dr. Gilleland founded and served as the CEO of Archimedes Technology Group, a company which created and successfully tested new technologies that can speed weapons waste cleanup and opens new non-chemical approaches to commercial spent fuel reprocessing.

As Chief Scientist and Vice President of Energy Programs at Bechtel Corporation, he had responsibility for a large number of advanced energy production and energy distribution system projects. In addition to nuclear programs, he had responsibility for a number of renewable energy projects that included very large central receiver and photo-voltaic solar projects, large commercial geothermal plants, commercial and demonstration biomass, wind, advanced diesel-solar hybrid arrays, and several other exploratory systems. Energy storage projects included superconducting, battery, hydro-pumped, inertial and compressed air based systems. Distributed energy projects included commercial scale fuel cell installations, microturbines, and small commercial and home-use solar arrays.

Prior to his Bechtel experiences, he served as the U.S. Managing Director of the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER) program during its Conceptual Design Phase, and Senior Vice President of General Atomics for Fusion Development.

Dr. Gilleland holds a B.S. in physics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan.

Technical Publications

Media Coverage

  • A Nuclear Newcomer: TerraPower and the Traveling Wave Reactor

    TerraPower CEO John Gilleland writes about TerraPower’s current work, highlighting the company’s supply chain development, materials and fuels progress, and reactor design work.


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  • Nuclear Video Matinee: NuScale and TerraPower at CERAWeek

    ANS Nuclear Café highlights a video featuring TerraPower CEO John Gilleland, produced by ICOSA Media.


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  • CERAWeek 2014 – The Future of Global Nuclear Power

    IHS reviews CERAWeek 2014’s panel on the future of nuclear energy, highlighting the presence of TerraPower CEO John Gilleland at the conference.

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  • Big Names Usher TerraPower Forward…But How Far?

    According to noted energy analyst Chris Gadomski, with almost 100 reactors under construction in countries around the globe, TerraPower’s novel traveling wave technology takes the existing nuclear generation market in a new direction.


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  • Atomic Goal: 800 Years of Power From Waste

    Matt Wald’s positive profile of TerraPower’s technology focuses on the potential for TerraPower’s TWR to provide an option for safer, cleaner, cheaper nuclear energy for the world.


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  • Amid Economic and Safety Concerns, Nuclear Advocates Pin Their Hopes on New Designs

    TerraPower’s improvements to nuclear energy’s waste and efficiency challenges are discussed in Bryan Walsh’s story on the optimism in today’s nuclear energy industry.


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  • Bill Gates’ Nuclear Company Explores Molten Salt Reactors, Thorium

    Reporter Mark Halper discusses TerraPower’s exploration of a wide range of innovations related to the TWR.


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  • Nuclear’s New Ideas Come in a Range of Sizes

    Chuck Ross presents TerraPower’s utility-scale TWR as an alternative to popular small modular reactor designs with the promise to bring new life to the energy industry.


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  • Power from Nuclear Waste

    Interview with John Gilleland, conducted after he spoke as part of the Energy Innovation Pioneer Breakfast at CERAWeek.


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  • In Search of Energy Miracles

    TerraPower is mentioned in Justin Gillis’ summary of CERAWeek.


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  • CERAWEEK-Gates Favors Nuclear Power to Help Limit Climate Change

    Summary of TerraPower Chairman Bill Gates’ keynote address to the IHS CERAWeek Conference.


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  • Energy: Will Small Nuclear Plants Revive Nuclear Power?

    This article focuses on the fascinating concentration of small nuclear reactor development in the Tri-Cities area, mentioning TerraPower’s TWR as another form of development in the region’s nuclear industry.


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  • Three Steps to Discovery in Aging Archives

    TerraPower’s CEO discusses the importance of archival knowledge, using TerraPower’s work on HT-9 steel alloys as a proof point.


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  • Nuclear Industry Looks Toward Smaller Reactors

    TerraPower earns a brief mention in USA Today’s article on the recent government funding of small modular reactors.


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  • Turn Nuclear Waste Into Fuel

    Inc. Magazine spotlights TerraPower in a package praising entrepreneurs pursuing ambitious goals at a time when so many are focused on ever-narrower niches. The article provides an overview of the traveling wave reactor and its improvements on current reactor technology.


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  • Nuclear Aims Small

    Within a larger discussion on projected funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for small modular reactors (SMR), TerraPower CEO John Gilleland provides perspective on TerraPower’s alternative reactor technology and its advantages over popular SMR designs.


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  • Power Surge: Uranium Alloy Fuel for TerraPower

    Y-12 Report highlights work that has been conducted at the complex on behalf of TerraPower. Since 2010, the Y‑12 National Security Complex has provided TerraPower with technical support on fabrication methods for a uranium alloy fuel for the TWR.

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  • Breed and Burn Reactors–Could Recycling Waste Redeem Nuclear Power?

    Mitch Beedie examines TerraPower’s reactor design, looking at the viability of extracting energy from depleted uranium to power new nuclear reactors.


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  • Nuclear Energy Innovation–Getting Off the Bench

    Blogger Melissa Lott writes about TerraPower’s unique ability to spur innovation and new construction in a revitalized nuclear industry.


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  • Big Nuke vs. Little Nuke: How the Nuclear Establishment is Stifling Innovation

    TerraPower CEO John Gilleland talks with freelance author Mark Piesing about the challenges facing nuclear technology innovators, alongside Helion Energy’s Dr. Phillip Wallace and industry commentator Mark Halper.


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  • China isn’t Building a Traveling Wave Nuclear Plant (Yet)

    Tech Review’s Kevin Bullis corrects the record, stating that, while China is an option for the traveling wave reactor, TerraPower is in talks with many organizations. As he writes, the TWR is still under development, and there are no deals to speak to at this point.


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  • Has Bill Gates Come Up With a Safe, Clean Way to Harness Nuclear Power?

    For The Independent newspaper in the U.K., Mark Piesing talks about TerraPower’s technology, the status of the traveling wave project and its viability.


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  • Don’t Count Out Nuclear Just Yet

    John Gilleland is quoted in Richard Martin’s frank, but encouraging, examination of the effect of Fukushima on the nuclear industry for Fortune Magazine.


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  • Advanced Reactor Gets Closer to Reality

    Kevin Bullis provides a solid update on TerraPower’s progress, highlighting the design advancements that make the reactor more practical and efficient. The article follows the 2009 article, “10 Emerging Technologies - TR10: Traveling-Wave Reactor.”


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  • Futuristic U.S. Power Reactor May be Developed Overseas

    A detailed update on TerraPower and the TWR. A discussion on the technology’s possible development overseas reflects on a mention of TerraPower by Jon Huntsman in January.


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  • Meltdown-or-Not, Future for Nuclear Seen in Diminutive Reactors

    A segment of a Bloomberg Markets cover story, small nuclear reactors are discussed in light of future energy options. The TWR is included as design with potential for offsetting the need for clean base load power.


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  • A Window into the Nuclear Future

    TerraPower and the TWR were profiled by the Wall Street Journal, including comments from Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates, and a new graphic detailing how the TP-1 works.


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  • 5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas Coming to Boston on Dec. 8, 2010

    John Gilleland and TerraPower were invited to participate in “5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas,” Xconomy’s special forum on the biggest new ideas in technology.


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  • The Next Wave

    TerraPower is on the forefront of innovation in nuclear power generation and waste recycling.


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  • Bill Gates Goes Nuclear

    Last year, Bill Gates caused a stir by releasing mosquitoes into the audience at the TED conference. His aim: to bring to life the idea of malaria as a scourge of the modern world. This year, he set free some fireflies to highlight a new theme: energy and climate change.


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  • John Gilleland: On the Traveling Wave Reactor

    TerraPower, LLC has been launched by the company Intellectual Ventures to design a traveling wave nuclear reactor.


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  • TR10: Traveling Wave Reactor

    Matt Wald discusses the Traveling Wave Reactor with TerraPower CEO John Gilleland, focusing on the opportunity to make nuclear energy safer and cheaper.


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