ABS awarded federal contract for marine nuclear propulsion project

18 August 2022

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced it is to research barriers to the adoption of advanced nuclear propulsion on commercial vessels under a research contract awarded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The organisation is also supporting separate research into molten salt reactors.

One company's vision for nuclear-powered ships (Image: Core Power)

The USD800,000 research project was awarded last year by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy and has been formally contracted through the US Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which has invested more than USD215 million in advanced nuclear technologies since 2017.

Working with support from DOE's National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC), based at Idaho National Laboratory, ABS will develop models of different advanced reactor technologies for maritime applications and develop an industry advisory on the commercial use of modern nuclear power.

"Modern nuclear technologies are increasingly suggested as a potential solution to shipping's decarbonisation challenge. The technology certainly has potential both in terms of its contribution to emissions reduction and for US shipyards and their supply chains to leverage national investment in terrestrial nuclear energy development," said ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology Patrick Ryan. "Nevertheless, many questions need to be answered and it is critical the industry is able to evaluate these technologies with a laser focus on safety.

NRIC Director Ashley Finan said there is a "tremendous opportunity" to reduce emissions in shipping, and growing interest from both the maritime and advanced nuclear sectors. "The national lab system has powerful capabilities - when we partner with industry, we can jointly apply those to our energy challenges, and NRIC was created to make that happen faster," she said.

ABS is a maritime classification society: an organisation responsible for establishing the minimum technical standards and requirements for maritime safety and environmental protection and ensuring their consistent application. Established in 1862, the organisation describes itself as a global leader in providing classification services for marine and offshore assets, with a mission to serve the public interest as well as its members and clients by promoting the security of life and property and preserving the natural environment. The organisation's history with maritime nuclear energy sources dates back to 1959, when the NS Savannah - the first merchant ship powered by a nuclear reactor - was approved under ABS Rules.

ABS said it has also been contracted by DOE to support research into molten salt reactors being carried out by the University of Texas.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News