By Zack Colman - 07/20/12 06:37 PM EDT
Before the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March 2011 in Japan, Obama had sought tens of billions of dollars in government insurance for new nuclear plants. And in February of 2010, the administration offered an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the first reactors licensed since 1978.
Billionaire Branson's inquiry might highlight a developing race to develop integral fast reactors, The Guardian posits. Branson’s move might mean he is competing with Bill Gates’s new firm, TerraPower, which is working on a different type of nuclear reactor technology.
Integral fast reactors make use of nuclear waste by burning plutonium and uranium. But not everyone agrees the reactors are safe.
The U.S. government ran a prototype integral fast reactor between 1964 and 1994. Congress defunded the program because of safety concerns.