Page 50: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (September 2022)

The Marine Design Edition

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SHIP DESIGN THE NUCLEAR OPTION lead to marine nuclear. Newsweek reported in August that sci-

Liquid lead: the Swedish Advanced entists at the National Ignition Facility had achieved nucle-

Lead Reactor, or SEALER, is “passively ar ignition in a fusion reactor just as scientists were getting safe” for being lead-cooled, compact, and ready to unveil the commissioning of a thorium MSR reactor at SINAP’s test lab in Huawei (Ulstein has a Chinese yard, so aluminum-alloyed. who knows). Bill Gates’s brainchild, TerraPower, also report- ed millions of dollars of funding for its natrium molten salt program. In all these cases — thorium ? ssion, fusion ignition and then natrium — the launch of anything other than a con- cept was said to be 15 years away. Materials development — especially as the thorium process corrodes — is priority No. 1.

“We believe it will be less than that,” says Ulstein spokes- person, Tonje Ruud, before handing off to the X-bow vision- ary, chief designer Kamsvaag. In its Marine Report to 2050,

DNV also expressed belief in marine nuclear and already issues a three-year ISO certi? cation of nuclear management (ISO 19443), while nuclear physics professors at Norwegian

NTNU are determined to push the radioactive element dis- covered 200 years ago by Norwegian vicar, Morten Esmark.

Thor the Enabler

Kamsvaag admits that in the aftermath of launching Thor — envisioned as an at-sea ? oating nuclear power platform, green fuels re? ner, rescue and research ship — interest in seagoing marine-nuclear has been palpable. “Various applica- tions — we can say that we have been approached by several types of ship owners interested in both the thorium-powered vessel and, among existing clients, the Skif (all-electric ad- venture-cruise).”

Image courtesy LeadCold

So, when can you buy a nuclear-powered vessel that won’t need a nuclear physicist onboard? Kamsvaag offers a clue to just how new all this is by referring to the reactor element in the Ulstein design as “a heat battery”. That, for many, is how

An artist’s impression of a modular reactor as it would appear aboard a large LNG carrier.

Photo credit NTNU/Nuproship 50 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • September 2022

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