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Bill Gates and ORANO (formerly the bankrupt AREVA) aim to start nuclear shipping, despite its history of failures.

UK-Based Startup Proposes a Renaissance for Nuclear-Powered Shipping,  The Maritime Executive 11-02-2020, A UK-based startup with backing from some of the biggest names in nuclear energy has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for cost-sharing support for the development of a new generation of nuclear power for commercial ship propulsion.Nuclear-powered civilian shipping had a small heyday during the Cold War, when the United States, the Soviet Union and Japan invested in demonstration vessels that could operate for years without refueling. In the U.S., the Eisenhower administration conceived of a nuclear-powered “peace ship” that would carry passengers and cargo in small quantities to serve as a demonstration of the potential for civilian nuclear energy projects. The result, the NS Savannah, entered service in 1962 and operated until 1972, when the Maritime Administration decommissioned her over cost concerns.

Japan’s entrant, the freighter Mutsu, entered service in 1974. She suffered a minor reactor shield fault on her maiden voyage, which led to a wave of negative publicity, and her operators had to negotiate with port communities in order to find her a new berth. She was not fully repaired until 1982 and did not set sail again until 1991. She was decomissioned one year later, and her reactor core was removed so that she could be converted into a conventionally-powered oceanographic research vessel.

The Soviet-built icebreaking LASH vessel Sevmorput is the only remaining nuclear-powered merchant cargo ship in civilian use. Operated by Atomflot, the agency charged with running Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, Sevmorput carries containerized cargo and project cargo along Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR). Shortly after she entered service in 1988, four Russian ports in the Siberian Far East refused to allow her to enter over fears that her nuclear reactor posed a public safety hazard. Similar concerns have been raised by foreign port operators, and she has generally been deployed on domestic intra-Russian routes only; however, this year she was dispatched to resupply Russia’s Antarctic research station. (As of Monday, she was broadcasting restricted maneuverability and moving north at a slow bell off the port of Luanda, Angola.)

Despite the past difficulties encountered by nuclear vessel operators, nuclear innovation company TerraPower – chaired by Microsoft founder and serial entrepreneur Bill Gates – has decided to partner with utility firm Southern Company and nuclear tech company Orano USA to back a new reactor designed to power commercial ships. The reactor’s developer, UK-based Core Power, sees molten salt reactor (MSR) nuclear “batteries” as a sustainable alternative for decarbonizing the world’s merchant fleet in the decades ahead.   …..

November 3, 2020 - Posted by | technology, USA

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