Aug 18, 2022 | Maritime & emissions research news

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded ABS a contract to research barriers to the adoption of advanced nuclear propulsion on commercial vessels, as part of a US$ 800,000 research project – awarded by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy in 2021 and formally contracted through its US Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity – to address challenges in adopting new reactor technology for commercial maritime applications.

ABS will develop models of different advanced reactor technologies for maritime applications and develop an industry advisory on the commercial use of modern nuclear power. Support will be provided by the Department of Energy’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC), based at Idaho National Laboratory. NRIC will provide the advanced reactor framework to help propose how a maritime nuclear demonstration could take place. 

In a separate, smaller award, the DOE has contracted ABS to support research into molten salt reactors being carried out by the University of Texas.

Patrick Ryan, ABS SVP Global Engineering and Technology, said: “Modern nuclear technologies are increasingly suggested as a potential solution to shipping’s decarbonization challenge. The technology certainly has potential both in terms of its contribution to emissions reduction and for US shipyards and their supply chains to leverage national investment in terrestrial nuclear energy development. Nevertheless, many questions need to be answered and it is critical the industry is able to evaluate these technologies with a laser focus on safety. ABS is up to the challenge to support the DOE in these efforts.”

NRIC director Ashley Finan added: “The national lab system has powerful capabilities – when we partner with industry, we can jointly apply those to our energy challenges, and NRIC was created to make that happen faster. There’s a tremendous opportunity to reduce emissions in shipping, as well as growing interest from both the maritime and advanced nuclear sectors, and we’re pleased to be a part of this important work.”

ABS has history with maritime nuclear energy sources dating back to 1959 with the NS Savannah (pictured) which was the first merchant ship powered by a nuclear reactor and approved under ABS Rules.

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