Nuclear: no emissions. Image Credit / C-Job Naval Architects.
The prospect of ships fuelled by nuclear power is gaining credence as the shipping industry casts around for low emission fuels.
New research by Dutch consultancy C-Job Naval Architects, points to a particular nuclear solution for ships with drastically reduced emissions.
"Developments in nuclear energy have mostly been focused on land-based applications," researcher Koen Houtkoop said.
In a maritime context, the study shows that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide can be reduced by 98% reduction in CO2 emissions while emission causing air pollution, such as SOx, PM and NOx, can be completely eliminated, Houtkoop added.
The particular nuclear solution highlighted by the study is the molten salt reactor. Although the protective shield around an onboard reactor is heavy, it is lighter than a conventional mamrine diesel option and while the capex is high, a nuclear fuelling system can become cost-effective within a five- to-15-year timeframe, according to the research.
But barriers to acceptance remain significant and include disposing of nuclear waste as well as societal perception.