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IPFS News Link • China

China Getting Serious About Nuclear Commercial Ships Again

•, by Brian Wang

The design was developed by Jiangnan Shipbuilding, a division of the Chinese state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). They reported that DNV issued an Approval in Principle (AiP) certificate for the design.

Nuclear commercial ships would save a lot of on fuel (perhaps $50 million per year on average). Mass production of nuclear commercial ships would eliminate a lot of air pollution and would enable to China to have military and commercial reactors for a nuclear navy. Nuclear ships would be faster and would not need refueling in ports which would again generate more revenue and save on costs.

China has classified the details of its efforts with thorium-based reactors because of the potential military applications. China however highlights that it has an abundant and less expensive supply of thorium meaning that it could be a cost-effective and zero-emission alternative for shipping and other industries. The thorium would be used as a safer alternative to uranium-based reactors.

Nextbigfuture has examined high speed nuclear commercial shipping many times over the years. A 2009 study of the economics of nuclear power for commercial shipping. The study showed that a nuclear ship would be $40 million per year cheaper to operate when bunker oil is at $500/ton. Currently, bunker fuel is about $580-640 per ton.

CSSC writes in a statement posted to Weibo, "This type of ship has high safety as the reactor operates at high temperatures and low pressure, meaning it can avoid in principle core melting." They highlight that the thorium reactor would not require high-pressure containers and pipelines as the reactor does not use large amounts of water for cooling. In the event of an accident, the core solidifies at ambient temperature, and in addition to normal shutdown methods, CSSC writes that the salt fuel can also be quickly discharged from the reactor to prevent spreading.