Ship boat

Nuclear energy start-up offers ship-board green ammonia plant

Compact Design of Core Power Molten Salt Reactor (Core Power)

Posted on February 1, 2022 at 4:07 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

Tech startup Reactor Core Power joins the call for mass production of renewable fuel using floating nuclear power plants, amplifying a recent independent study of onboard nuclear power plants.

In a recent report, US consultancy EPRI proposed rethinking deployment options for turning nuclear power into carbon-free hydrogen and ammonia, the two building blocks of carbon-free propulsion for ships on the high seas. efficiency of nuclear “FPSOs” in existing shipyards, such as those of South Korea’s “Big Three”, EPRI calculated that it would be possible to manufacture green fuel in floating nuclear power plants at an exceptionally affordable price. Including O&M, EPRI’s long-term levelized cost estimate was $230 per ton of green ammonia – even below the most optimistic forecast for green solar and wind fuel production.

On-board nuclear power plants would have two major advantages: first, the largest shipyards have the infrastructure and manpower to build complex industrial facilities at the lowest possible investment cost and to replicate the same design again and again. Second, vessels have fewer hurdles to obtaining permits compared to the extensive shore-based requirements. They could also be moored in places where it is convenient for other ships to dock and take hold, without the added cost of moving fuel to the point of consumption.

Core Power, a company headquartered in the UK, continued with its own feasibility study for the production of ammonia from nuclear energy. His modeling shows that with current technology, it is possible to produce one million tonnes of ammonia per year using 1.2 GW of electrical power on each floating platform. This is equivalent to 440,000 tonnes of VLSFO; assuming current levels of energy efficiency, this equates to approximately 2,000 to 2,500 sailing days for an ultra large container ship (ULCV), depending on vessel speed and hull cleanliness.

“Production of green ammonia at sea using advanced nuclear energy would be superior to production from renewables and non-marine atomic systems because atomic energy has the highest capacity factor of all methods of generating electricity – while intermittent renewables, including wind and solar, have the lowest,” said Dr. Rory Megginson. “This reliability and dispatchability make the atomic advanced the ideal energy source for the production of e-fuel.”

Core Power has also offered to install its small molten salt reactors aboard merchant ships, a high-tech update to the SS Savannah and Sevmorput concept of civil nuclear propulsion. Its technology would provide power throughout a ship’s normal 30-year commercial life, without refueling. However, local skepticism about the perceived risk of nuclear power can be a challenge for nuclear-powered ships, as Sevmorput discovery in 2020: after a propeller failure off West Africa, the reluctance of the port State to give Sevmorput a place of refuge forced her to transit from Angola to Saint Petersburg for repairs. Instead, mounting the reactor on a permanently moored platform and using it to make an intermediate fuel – green ammonia – would solve this problem.