Page 48: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (September 2022)

The Marine Design Edition

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Maritime’s Nuclear Option

A race is being run by nuclear scientists and ship designers. The prize? “Decarbonization’s” holy grail — believed to be a “small” thorium-fuelled, molten- salt rector’s unlimited power to propel sea trade. At the same time, a recently revived discussion among leading marine-nuclear thinkers revolves now around how to put an ultra-modern, as-yet non-existent marine reactor aboard a modern commercial vessel. As with nuclear power generally, shipborne reactors produce national discussion ? rst, then discovery. Now its global, and vessel designs are on the table.

By William Stoichevski he word is, “Don’t be afraid” of upcoming marine hand, and thorium research reactors small modular reactors nuclear. Leading reactor technology based on heating seem to be growing in number (in all, some 70 compact de- thorium then dissolving it as a ? uoride in salt would, signs worldwide, according to the IAEA). Speci? cally, the

T in a core explosion, only contaminate what the debris molten-salt reactor (MSR) is among a range dubbed Gen- would touch. “An easy clean-up,” one marine-nuclear devel- eration IV reactors and praised for their “walk-away safety, oper says. No cause for alarm. proliferation resistance and very long refuelling cycles,” says

Among the keenest green-marine advocates, there’s an Phil Lewis, Director of Research, Intelatus, a market analysis admission that rare earth elements will not be enough to de- organization in the energy, marine and industrial sectors.

carbonize shipping. Some see the answer in portable nuclear reactors fuelled by readily available thorium — found on Bra- China “crisis” zilian and Indian beaches or mined with rare-earths. Mean- Until this week, another group of reactor types — the pres- while, the land-based nuclear supply chain is ready to lend a surized-water reactors aboard icebreakers, a pair of cargo ves- 48 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • September 2022

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.