American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) commissioned Herbert Engineering Corp. (HEC) to carry out the study to explore the potential of advanced modern reactor technology for commercial marine propulsion.
The study was focused on the impact of nuclear propulsion on the design, operation, and emissions of a 14,000 teu container vessel and a 157,000 dwt suezmax tanker.
The study, which involved input from leading nuclear reactor developers, modelled the impact of two, lead-cooled, 30MW fast reactors on the container carrier, finding it would likely increase cargo capacity and operational speed while eliminating the need for refuelling during its entire 25-year lifespan.
On the suezmax vessel, the study found the addition of four, 5MW, heat-pipe microreactors, while decreasing cargo capacity, would raise operational speeds and only require refuelling once during its 25-year life. Both concept vessels would emit zero CO2.
ABS is playing a pioneering role in supporting the development of nuclear propulsion for commercial vessels. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded ABS a contract to research barriers to the adoption of advanced nuclear propulsion on commercial vessels back in the summer of 2022.
“[…] the industry cannot afford to ignore the vast potential offered by nuclear propulsion both in terms of emissions reduction and operational efficiency. Turning this into a practical reality will require significant public sector support and ABS is well placed to bring governments and industry together,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS chairman and CEO.