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With scientists from Western nations finding it difficult to raise enough money to build experimental plants at home, China is becoming the testing ground for a new breed of nuclear power stations designed to be safer and cheaper.

China National Nuclear Power Co. this month announced a joint venture to build and operate a “traveling wave reactor” in Hebei province, designed by Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower LLC, whose chairman is Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates. The development follows Canada’s SNC-Lavalin, which has agreed to build a new recycled-fuel plant with China National Nuclear Corp. and Shanghai Electric Group, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is working with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics on a salt-cooled system.

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