Considerations on the potential use of Nuclear Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology for merchant marine propulsion

International shipping has a well established reputation as the most energy efficient mode of freight transport. However, treating shipping within the context of global environmental concerns has gained significant momentum over the last 10 years, particularly in relation to the generation of Green House Gases (GHG) and other contributions to air and water pollution. Shipping relies on fuel oil and this implies that understanding the potential of alternative non-carbon marine propulsion technologies is necessary as the industry moves forward with its longer term decarbonisation efforts. Without any intend to underestimate the potential environmental and economic benefits of renewable, natural gas or non-fossil (e.g. biofuels) energy resources, it would be only sensible to add on the nuclear engineering option as a possible alternative. As successful as traditional nuclear propulsion has been in the naval and ice breaker ship segments, one aspect of the industry that escaped attention in the commercial sector is the use of modern small and medium size reactor technology on-board ocean going vessels. This paper reviews past and recent work in the area of marine nuclear propulsion and for the purpose of demonstration outlines the technical considerations on the concept design of a Suezmax Tanker powered by the Gen4Energy 70MW Small Modular Reactor (SMR). It is shown that understanding the technical risks and implications of implementing modern nuclear technology is an essential first step in the long term process of developing knowledge and experience.


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  • Accession Number: 01519482
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 25 2014 2:25PM