US contracts ABS to research nuclear powered commercial vessels

Classification society ABS has been awarded an $800,000 contract by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to research barriers to the adoption of nuclear propulsion on commercial vessels.

The research project will address challenges to adopting new reactor technology in commercial maritime applications, with ABS tasked with developing models of different reactor technologies and industry advisory guidelines on the commercial use of nuclear power.

“Modern nuclear technologies are increasingly suggested as a potential solution to shipping’s decarbonisation challenge,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology.

“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.”

Support will be provided by the DOE’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC), based at Idaho National Laboratory. NRIC will provide the reactor framework to help propose how a maritime nuclear demonstration could take place. 

“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,” said NRIC Director Ashley Finan.

“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.”

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

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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