Freight News, Sea

Is it time for the freight industry to stop worrying and learn to love the nuclear ship?

[ September 15, 2023   //   ]

The future propulsion system for large ocean-going containerships my not be methanol, ethanol or batteries, but nuclear power said the boss of a UK based and technology innovation company.

Mikal Bøe, chief executive of Core Power, based in Chiswick, west London, told a press conference at London Shipping Week on 14 September said that nuclear powered commercial ships could have lower – and less volatile – fuel costs, operate at higher speeds without incurring increased costs and produce just 2% of the emissions of today’s heavy fuel oil-powered vessels.

Also, rather than consuming shore electric power, nuclear-powered vessels could even put power back into the grid when in port.

A report by Core Power, New Nuclear for Maritime, envisages that nuclear-powered container ships would use Molten Chloride Fast Reactors, a technology first conceived in the 1950s. This, he says is a closed-cycle liquid fuel that offers long periods between refuelling and a high level of safety, making it uniquely suitable for the marine environment.

The report acknowledges the public unease about the safety of nuclear energy, but argues that there is a divergence between perception and reality. While nuclear disasters such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima have grabbed the headlines, in reality the number of people that have died in them “pales in comparison to the regular number of deaths in the coal, biomass and oil industries”.

Spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored, where it is not reused.