ABS’s Pioneering Study On Nuclear-Powered Vessels



Credits: Kinsey/Unsplash
  • The ABS-HEC study examines nuclear propulsion for a 14,000 TEU boxship and a 157,000 dwt Suezmax tanker, highlighting its potential benefits.
  • The boxship design features a twin-reactor, lead-cooled, 30MW fast reactor, enhancing cargo capacity and speed.
  • The Suezmax tanker explores the use of four 5MW heat-pipe microreactors, boosting speed while slightly reducing cargo capacity.

Nuclear propulsion for large ships has emerged as a promising carbon-free solution, prompting a landmark study by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Hebert Engineering Corp. to explore its viability in the maritime industry.

Carbon-Free Shipping

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Hebert Engineering Corp. (HEC) have conducted a groundbreaking study on the use of nuclear propulsion in large ships. This innovative concept, known for its carbon-free profile, has gained renewed attention for civilian applications.

A Game-Changing Design

Under a contract from the U.S. Department of Energy, ABS and HEC explored nuclear propulsion options for two common vessel classes. For the 14,000 TEU Post-panamax boxship, the team selected a twin-reactor, lead-cooled, 30MW fast reactor design, providing a total installed power of 60MW. This configuration not only enhances cargo capacity but also significantly boosts operating speed.

Microreactors for Speed

The study also delved into nuclear propulsion for a 157,000 dwt Suezmax tanker. The team examined the potential of installing four 5MW heat-pipe microreactors, with a total installed power of 20MW. While this setup would increase the tanker’s speed, it would slightly reduce its cargo capacity.

Net-Zero Emissions and Safety

In both cases, the fuel core’s lifespan would align with the typical operational life of a merchant ship, lasting 25 years, while emitting zero CO2. The research highlights the advantages of advanced reactor technologies, such as enhanced safety, reduced waste, and proliferation prevention. ABS’s involvement in supporting research for thermal-electric integration of nuclear propulsion systems on commercial vessels further underscores their commitment to a net-zero future.

This landmark study marks a significant step towards realizing a net-zero world through nuclear propulsion in the maritime industry. As technology advances and safety measures are fine-tuned, the vision of a carbon-free shipping industry becomes closer to reality.

Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?

It’s Free! Click here to subscribe!




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.