Why Bill Gates is Backing Building Innovation

August 30, 2019
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Photo: Unsplash/juergenpm

Bill Gates is investing in new, innovative companies that will change the way we build, Fast Company reports.

Bill Gates loves to make solving complex problems sound fairly straightforward. Take the fact that the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. To create the basic building blocks of urbanized society—steel, cement, plastic, glass, aluminum, and even paper—we are slowly destroying it.

Gates’s answer: Why not just reboot those old manufacturing processes? “If we’re going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot of inventing to do,” he says in a new post on his GatesNotes blog. That’s in addition to rethinking how things get used.

To speed the learning curve, Gates has invested in two companies through his own investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The first is Boston Metal, which uses electricity to make steel instead of burning coal. That electricity could be generated using renewable energy instead of burning dirty fossil fuel. It’s a complex process, so he shared a video about how it works.

For industrial processes that require more heat, he’s backed a second and more extreme fuel-switching company called TerraPower that’s tinkering with cleaner nuclear power generation. “[It] uses an approach called a traveling wave reactor that is safe, prevents proliferation, and creates very little waste,” he writes.

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