Advancing Nuclear Technologies For Maritime Decarbonisation: Progress, Safety, And Challenges

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New nuclear technologies are being actively considered and developed for shipping applications due to their potential in defense and civil offshore operations. The Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub’s recent assessment highlights significant advancements in nuclear-power technology readiness for maritime use.

Expansion of Nuclear Technology Categories

The Zero-Carbon Fuel Monitor now evaluates five nuclear technology categories, up from three in 2023. These include high-temperature gas reactors, liquid metal-cooled reactors, pressurized water reactors (PWRs), micro-reactors, and molten salt reactors. This expansion reflects the growing focus on diverse nuclear technologies in the maritime industry.

Safety and Environmental Improvements

The advent of advanced designs enhances the safety of onboard ship energy systems, addressing public safety concerns. Technologies that recycle spent fuel from PWRs also reduce environmental impact. The practicality of offshore refueling was demonstrated by the first refueling of the floating nuclear power station Akademik Lomonosov in November 2023.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite technological progress, public perception and investment readiness levels remain low due to concerns about safety and regulatory uncertainties. However, collaboration between the nuclear and maritime industries, along with the development of supportive regulations, is essential to improve community and investment readiness and advance the adoption of nuclear technologies in commercial shipping.

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Source: LR