ABS study suggests nuclear propulsion could play a ‘transformative role’ for shipping industry Ship’s crew

A new study that Herbert Engineering Corp. (HEC) on behalf of the ABS classification society concludes that the use of advanced nuclear reactors on board a 14,000 TEU container ship would virtually eliminate the need for refueling the ship throughout its 25 year lifespan.

The study examined how the installation of nuclear propulsion would affect the design, operation and emissions profile of two ship types, a 14,000 TEU container ship and a 157,000 ton Suezmax tanker.

The idea was to explore the potential of advanced modern reactor technology for commercial marine propulsion, to help the industry better understand the feasibility and safety implications of nuclear propulsion and to support future development projects.

The study included contributions from leading nuclear reactor designers.

It modeled the effects of two 30 MW lead-cooled fast reactors on the container carrier and determined that this would likely increase cargo capacity and operational speed while eliminating the need for refueling throughout its 25-year lifespan.

On the Suezmax ship, the study found that installing four 5MW heat pipe microreactors while reducing cargo capacity would increase operational speed and would require only one refueling over its 25-year lifetime. Both concept ships would not emit any CO2.

“Our findings from this latest cutting-edge research underscore why the industry cannot afford to ignore the tremendous potential that nuclear propulsion offers in terms of both emissions reductions and operational efficiencies. A net-zero world is easier to achieve with nuclear propulsion, and we are laying the foundations for that future today. Putting this into practice will require significant public sector support and ABS is well positioned to bring governments and industry together,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman and CEO.

“Advanced or small modular reactors solve many of the problems traditionally associated with nuclear power for commercial use at sea, with increased safety and efficiency, reduced cost, and elimination of waste and proliferation. Still, many questions remain to be answered, and it is vital that the industry evaluates these technologies with a clear focus on security.”

“HEC is pleased to support ABS and to research the practical application of nuclear energy on board. “This study helps us understand in detail the potential of modern reactor technology and how this will impact the design and operation of future ships,” said Robert Tagg, Senior Principal Naval Architect at HEC.

ABS supports the development of nuclear propulsion systems for merchant ships. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded ABS a contract to research barriers to the introduction of advanced nuclear propulsion on commercial ships. DOE has also engaged ABS to support University of Texas research into thermal-electrical integration of a nuclear propulsion system on a merchant ship.

Related Articles

Back to top button