One of the world’s largest shipbuilders is pressing ahead with plans to build nuclear-powered merchant ships.
Samsung Heavy Industries said Wednesday it will partner with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to develop molten salt reactors to power ships as well as market offshore power plants.
The nuclear development goes alongside Samsung Heavy’s already advanced research and development into ammonia- and hydrogen-powered ships, the Korean yard said today, as it races to lead the shipbuilding pack in offering alternative propulsion choices.
Last October another Korean shipbuilding major, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) entered into a memorandum of understanding with Kepco Engineering & Construction Company (Kepco E&C), a unit of Korea Electric Power Corporation, to cooperate on the development of floating nuclear power plants. Next door in China, some of the nation’s largest shipyards are also developing similar floating atomic infrastructure.
Nuclear propulsion for ships has been garnering a lot of headlines in recent months. Writing for Splash recently, Mikal Bøe, whose firm CORE-POWER like Samsung Heavy is also developing marine molten salt reactors, suggested that his atomic technology under development does not require the $1.4trn infrastructure-spend for its fuel source like that for synthetic fuels, hydrogen fuel cells or batteries will. A marine molten salt reactor will be 70% cheaper to lease, operate and recycle than any synthetic hydrogen-based fuel, Bøe insisted.
Public perception was cited as the biggest hurdle facing nuclear power at sea in a poll carried by Splash late last year, trumping price and caution from regulatory authorities.