12/07/2011 05:49 EST | Updated 02/06/2012 05:12 EST

Bill Gates-backed company in discussions with China to develop new generation nuclear reactor

BEIJING, China - Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates says he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new kind of nuclear reactor.

During a talk at China's Ministry of Science & Technology Wednesday, the billionaire said: "The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste."

Gates backs Washington-based TerraPower, which is developing a nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium.

He says TerraPower is having "very good discussions" with state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation.

Gates says perhaps as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.