Bill Gates startup to build nuclear reactor - Wikimedia Commons

An energy startup that has backing from Microsoft multi-billionaire Bill Gates is talking to Toshiba about building a small nuclear reactor.

That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which says that TerraPower, part of Intellectual Ventures, is funded by Gates and run by ex Microsoft suit Nathan Myhrvold.

The story, originally published by Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, claims that TerraPower is in initial discussions with Toshiba.

The small scale reactor, if it's ever built, will run on depleted uranium, so making it a far safer bet than conventional nuclear power stations.

If it ever happens, it's not going to happen overnight because developing such reactors is in its early stages.

The WSJ story is here (sub required).