South Korean shipbuilder, Samsung Heavy Industries has signed a co-operation agreement with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to develop molten salt reactors for ship power purposes.
Molten salt reactors are a type of small module reactor using molten fluoride salts as the primary coolant, at low pressure, which have been emerging as a carbon-zero nuclear energy source. Samsung believes they could provide a further option in attempts to decarbonise shipping and hope to establish a market for floating nuclear power generation plants and nuclear power-propelled ships.
“MSR is a carbon-free energy source that can efficiently respond to climate change issues and is a next-generation technology that meets the vision of Samsung Heavy Industries,” said Jin-Taek Jung, president of Samsung Heavy Industries. “We plan to focus our R&D efforts to create a new future growth engine.”
The research will include MSR element technology and related equipment development, such as heat exchangers, offshore nuclear product design and business model development, performance verification, and economic evaluation.
Samsung believes that the MSR systems are ideally suited for ship power as the life of the reactor is projected at around 20 years, the same as the life of the vessel, meaning the ship would not need to refuel. They highlight that the size of the reactor is relatively small, so it has the advantage of easy application to ships.