UK-Korean partnership to develop nuclear-powered cargo ships

03 January 2024

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Lloyd's Register, Zodiac Maritime, HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE) and Kepco Engineering & Construction for the development of nuclear-propelled ship designs, including bulk carriers and container ships.

Representatives from Lloyd's Register, Zodiac, HD KSOE and Kepco E&C signed the MoU at HD Hyundai's R&D Centre (Image: Lloyd's Register)

Under the joint development project, HD KSOE and Kepco E&C will provide designs for future vessels and reactors while Lloyd's Register will assess rule requirements for safe operation and regulatory compliance models.

The partners will work to address the challenges involved with nuclear propulsion, such as applying existing terrestrial nuclear technology to ships, and the project will enable shipping company Zodiac to evaluate ship specifications and voyage considerations around nuclear technology.

"The move comes as the shipping industry looks more closely at nuclear as a future marine fuel in the context of the energy transition and decarbonisation targets," Lloyd's Register said.

The shipping industry consumes some 350 million tonnes of fossil fuel annually and accounts for about 3% of total worldwide carbon emissions. In July last year, the shipping industry, via the International Maritime Organization, approved new targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, aiming to reach net-zero emissions by or around 2050.

"Lloyd's Register believes there is huge opportunity for nuclear technology to support the maritime energy transition and provide long-term low- or zero-carbon fuel supply security." said Sung-Gu Park, President North East Asia at Lloyd's Register. "We have been assessing nuclear's potential over many decades and we are delighted to partner with Zodiac, HD KSOE and Kepco on this R&D project for nuclear-propelled ships."

"The shipping industry is on an exciting but challenging journey as we transition towards a zero-carbon future," said Stavros Hatzigrigoris, New Buildings Director at Zodiac Maritime. "There is clearly great potential for nuclear technology to play a key part in achieving this mission, but the industry is only in the early stages of putting nuclear power to the test."

"As leading companies in the shipbuilding and nuclear industry, HD KSOE and Kepco E&C are collaborating on the design of a nuclear propulsion ship," Sang-Min Park, Senior Vice President (Green Energy Technology) at HD KSOE and Beom-Seo Park, Executive Senior Vice President at Kepco E&C said in a joint statement. "A nuclear propulsion ship emits no carbon, and its paramount goal is to be designed with a life cycle cost of less than half that of carbon neutral ships."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News