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 chief executive officer (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 Bachelor of Science in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from the University of Michigan.

Technical Publications

Media Coverage

  • Bold Action, Focused Effort Can Solve the Unsolvable

    Using TerraPower as an example, columnist Dr. Scott Morris reflects on what it takes to solve difficult problems. In his opinion, the company’s success is the result of hard work and mission-driven innovation, principles that could be applied to push any effort forward.

    Visit Website »
  • Nuclear Innovators Say Public-Private Collaboration Vital

    TerraPower’s John Gilleland appeared before Congress in May, testifying about the benefits public-private collaboration affords companies. TerraPower, like many advanced nuclear companies, works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Visit Website »
  • Nuclear Costs Will Come Down, Executives Tell Senators

    TerraPower Chief Technical Officer John Gilleland testified before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, saying that one of the primary goals of new nuclear technologies is to lower upkeep costs and thus lower the cost of electricity generation.

    Visit Website »
  • Nuclear Firms: More Federal Money for Advanced Reactors

    Bloomberg BNA reporter Rebecca Kern summarizes a Congressional hearing on advanced nuclear technology development. As part of the hearing, TerraPower’s John Gilleland advocated to support the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with both funding and know-how to help license new nuclear technologies.

    Visit Website »
  • New Paradigms for the Nuclear Energy Sector

    Reporter Dan Yurman examines the state of advanced nuclear technology development around the world. TerraPower’s John Gilleland shares how TerraPower achieves milestones by leveraging partnerships with government entities, universities and private companies.

    Visit Website »
  • 8 Tech Breakthroughs of 2015 That Could Help Power the World

    National Geographic’s Wendy Koch cites TerraPower as a major player in the advanced nuclear reactor field. TerraPower’s progress on the TWR is a milestone in the future of advanced reactors.

    Visit Website »