SHI, KHNP and Seaborg to develop floating nuclear plants

South Korean shipbuilding major Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) has teamed up with a Denmark-based startup focused on nuclear reactor technology Seaborg Technologies and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), an owner and operator of nuclear power plants, in a consortium that aims to develop floating nuclear power plants.

Signing Ceremony

The plants would be based on Seaborg’s innovative compact molten salt reactor technology (CMSR). They will be installed on barges with a modular design able to deliver from 200MWe to 800MWe, with the consortium’s first project expected to be a 200MWe power barge.

The consortium aims to enable timely commercialization and a scalable export of factory-produced CMSR-based floating nuclear power plants worldwide.

SHI and Seaborg have already launched cooperation in the field. Namely, last year the duo entered into a partnership to develop floating nuclear power plants using CMSR tech.

The companies are also targeting hydrogen production plants and ammonia plants, as the CMSR is said to be an ideal power source for the supply of stable, clean, and safe electricity.

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“KHNP’s active effort will be aimed at fostering a mutually beneficial partnership between Korea and Denmark, with a focus on cooperation in the next generation nuclear power project, for a safer and cleaner future,” said Jooho Whang, CEO of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

“Floating Nuclear Power Plant is a carbon-free energy solution which is efficiently responding to the climate change issues and a next-generation technology expandable to floating Hydrogen, Ammonia plant that meets the vision of Samsung Heavy Industries,” added Jintaek Jeong, CEO of Samsung Heavy Industries.

“This consortium is unique for deploying nuclear power at scale,” said Navid Samandari, CEO of Seaborg Technologies. “We are proud to say we have partnered with the best for construction and operations as part of our shared mission to develop and deploy the power barges.”

The agreement marks a significant milestone for floating nuclear solution for the world, where each 200MWe of generation capacity is expected to save over 26 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 24-year lifetime compared with a coal-fired power plant.

Korean industry majors have recognized the potential of nuclear power for decarbonization of the maritime industry and are already working on the development of nuclear-powered ships.

Under a recently signed MoU, South Korean industry majors led by Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, the Korean Research Institute of Ship & Ocean Engineering (KRISO), the Korean Register, Wooyang Shipping Co, Sinokor, H-Line, and HMM, among others, joined forces on a demonstration of how small modular nuclear reactors can be used to propel ships.

The project will also investigate the development of relevant marine system interface and propulsion technology as well as the production of hydrogen using molten salt reactors.

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Samsung Heavy Industries is also working with KAERI on developing floating nuclear power plants based on MSR technology.

Furthermore, the shipbuilder has completed the conceptual design for a CMSR Power barge, a floating facility for offshore nuclear power plants, and secured approval in principle from the U.S.-bassed ABS classification society.

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Nuclear propulsion is gaining interest from the maritime world on the backdrop of growing challenges with respect to scaling up the production of green ammonia, e-methanol, and hydrogen which are believed to hold the key to the decarbonization of shipping.

Some of the key benefits the technology brings to the table are its independence from volatile fuel prices as well as the fact that running on nuclear would enable ships to abandon the slow steaming practice and boost vessel efficiency by sailing faster all while producing zero emissions.