Nuclear Energy for Marine Propulsion
Nuclear energy has been providing zero-emission power for naval and government vessels for more than six decades. With the increased focus on zero-carbon emissions in the maritime industry and the development of small scale modular nuclear reactors, nuclear-powered merchant ships offer the potential for the decarbonization of the global fleet. For nuclear power to become a viable solution for marine applications, there are many issues to be resolved, including further technology development and a means to demonstrate the suitability of nuclear power.
Offshore Nuclear Power Production
In addition to marine propulsion, increased interest in nuclear power has sparked new ideas on how to generate power offshore for onshore [GB1] usage. Several projects have emerged focused on leveraging floating assets, specifically barges, to generate nuclear power for onshore use. In 2020, ABS completed a feasibility study for a Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR), the concept was designed so that the CMSR could be installed on a power barge to provide electric power to shore.
Advanced Reactor Research
While current marine reactors can be large, heavy and involve lengthy and complex refueling or decommissioning processes, research is ongoing into new types of reactors that could reduce their size and increase operating time without refueling needed. These include heat pipe reactors and molten salt reactors. Advanced reactor designs for maritime applications are intended to reduce the weight of the reactor, increase automation and safety, and make the refueling process much easier.
How can ABS assist?
ABS is supporting the industry’s journey to decarbonization through joint development projects involving nuclear propulsion systems. These include a project focused on integrated thermal-electric energy management of an all-electric ship with advanced nuclear reactors with the University of Texas at Dallas and a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to research barriers to demonstration projects and adoption of advanced nuclear propulsion on commercial vessels.
ABS can assist shipowners and operators researching alternative fuels, like nuclear power, through:
Contact our team to learn more.