LR nuclear propulsion

Zodiac Maritime, HD KSOE & partners team up on nuclear propulsion

UK-based shipping company Zodiac Maritime has teamed up with Lloyd’s Register (LR), South Korean shipbuilder HD KSOE and power plant design and engineering company KEPCO E&C in a joint development project for the research and development of nuclear-propelled ship designs.

Image credit: LR

The companies have signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Korea’s HD Hyundai Global R&D Center to study nuclear propulsion for ships including bulk carriers and containerships.

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 decarbonization targets.

Under the JDP, HD KSOE and KEPCO E&C will provide designs for future vessels and their reactors while LR will assess rule requirements for safe operation and regulatory compliance models.

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

A nuclear propulsion ship emits no carbon, and its paramount goal is to be designed with a life cycle cost (LCA) of less than half that of carbon-neutral ships. 

HD KSOE and KEPCO E&C are already collaborating on the design of a nuclear propulsion ship.

The duo has received approval in principle (AiP) from the classification society ABS for a new design of a floating offshore nuclear power barge.

The design involves a 240 megawatt (MW) SMR-powered ship, featuring four sets of 60-megawatt SMRs. The vessel would be a floating SMR facility on the sea, with the SMR placed on the bottom and a platform on top that produces carbon-free fuel such as hydrogen.

The floating SMR barge is intended to serve as offshore power generation for remote communities and island electrification.

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“Lloyd’s Register believes there is a huge opportunity for nuclear technology to support the maritime energy transition and provide long-term low- or zero-carbon fuel supply security. 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,” Sung-Gu Park, President North East Asia, LR said.

“The shipping industry is on an exciting but challenging journey as we transition towards a zero-carbon future. 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. We are therefore thrilled to partner with HD KSOE, KEPCO and LR on this JDP and help facilitate the research and development needed to accelerate nuclear power technology in shipping,” Stavros Hatzigrigoris, New Buildings Director, Zodiac Maritime, said. 

HD KSOE has invested $30 million in the fourth-generation SMR company, TerraPower, and the company has plans to accelerate the development of future nuclear-powered ships by establishing an SMR research team.