We are pleased to present our current portfolio. Nucleation fund subscribers participate pro-rata in the investments that we make for the quarters to which they have subscribed. We accept new subscribers on a rolling basis, so new subscribers will participate in our deals going forward, not in the deals that have closed in past quarters. (Investors wishing to participate in Ultra Safe may still invest through our syndicated offering.)
Q3 2022 Investment: (Coming soon)
Q2 2022 Investment #2: Ultra Safe Nuclear
Nucleation Capital has made an equity commitment Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
[The following is a pre-close announcement summary.]
- Inherent safety with accident and proliferation-deterrent micro-encapsulated fuel packaged in a heat-resistant ceramic form. This design can withstand temperatures far greater than the operational temperature of the reactor, without melting down and prevent the possibility of mischief with spent fuel.
- Intrinsic safety through a micro-modular design that separates the heat production from direct power generation and provides power automatically, without needing operators or continuous onsite maintenance.
- Physical safety by routine installation of the nuclear portion within a reinforced subterranean canister that provides an extra layer of protection and separation from events on the surface, whether this may be weather-related, freak accident or intentional sabotage event.
- Passive safety, through a design that utlizes a molten salt storage heat buffer system between the reactor and power generation, enabling a decoupling of the reactor heat and usage, an automatic shutdown capability and natural, convection-based cooling underground in the event of any loss of power.
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) celebrated the opening of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on August 18, 2022. In attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff, Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, as well as representatives for Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. What impressed everyone was how quickly the facility, which existing industrial building was only purchased by USNC in 2021, was outfitted with the appropriate systems, services and equipment such that it is ready to commence radiological operations in less than a year.
The PFM facility is now ready to test its systems and start preparations for making production-scale modules of USNC’s proprietary TRISO-coated fuel particles embeded into specially-designed 3D-printed silicon carbide shells and coated with high-temperature-resistant ceramic coating. These initial fuel pellets will be ready for testing and qualification for use in USNC’s 15-MWt high-temperature, gas-cooled, graphite-moderated microreactor, called the Micro Modular Reactor (MMR).
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) signed a deal with Hyundai Engineering for the procurement of its next-generation micro-modular reactor (MMR) in Ontario, Canada.
Hyundai Engineering began partnering with Ultra Safe originally back in 2012, with the goal of developing Ultra Safe’s high-temperature gas-cooled micro-modular reactor. Then earlier this year, the two parties signed an engineering, procurement and construction agreement, worth $30 million. Soon after, they signed a technical cooperation agreement.
The most recent agreement, the parties have signed a framework agreement through which Hyundai Engineering will provide power generation facilities, cooling systems and radioactive equipment for the Chalk River Laboratories site.
Q2 2022 Investment #1: Synergetic
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in SYNERGETIC Clean Energy Technologies Ltd.
[The following is a pre-announcement summary.]
Synergetic brings unparallelled expertise to enable the transition of difficult-to-decarbonize industries, regions and companies to clean fuels. The problem with decarbonization is the unpredictable lag time between now and when full electrification can be achieved. In the meantime, we still need to stop burning as much as 100 million barrels per day, yet few are willing to stop driving, flying, boating, etc. Synergetic’s mission is to generate transitional net-zero fuels that are suitable for airlines, ships, trucks, buses on down, so that people can continue to move as usual, even while emission go to zero.
Synergetics helps its customers replace the liquid hydrocarbons that are refined from petroleum—gasoline, aviation fuel, marine shipping fuel, diesel and others (all of which emit carbon dioxide)—with carbon-neutral or carbon-negative synthetic fuels that are chemically identical to the petroleum-based fuels, but synthesized from clean feedstocks and processed with clean processes and carbon-free energy.
Synergetic’s founders have been reviewing, assessing, building and evaluating integrated clean energy systems for more than a decade and are recognized leaders in the clean energy transition. To help customers achieve scale on an expedited basis, they have designed a number of synthetic fuel production systems that use clean, low-cost energy to output carbon-neutral fuels, typically with virtually no land footprint, and with component and construction partnerships ready to go. These fuels will power the global transport system with net-zero emissions and Synergetic brings the expertise and partnerships that will expedite the transition.
(More information will be available soon.)
Synergetic’s Founders bring deep analytical and operations consulting expertise to those confronting the need to decarbonize urgently. They have published extensively on what it will take to meet global decarbonization goals. See their foundational reports here, including the highly influential Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals, and the EPRI-sponsored report, Rethinking Deployment Scenarios for Advanced Reactors: Scalable Nuclear Energy for Zero-Carbon Synthetic Fuels and Products.
SYNERGETIC Clean Energy applauds two recent events bolstering the expansion of nuclear power.
[The following were part of press releases issued by the Synergetic team.]
7/6/22: We welcome the new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions: From Today’s Challenges to Tomorrow’s Clean Energy Systems, (published June 30, 2022), which concludes that nuclear power can play a significant role in helping countries solve the twin crises of energy and climate.
7/21/22: “We are encouraged by the EU parliament’s recognition of nuclear as a necessary solution to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. This will enable investment in the lowest cost decarbonisation – which is long term operation of existing nuclear plants – as well as grow investment in new advanced nuclear technologies, which have the potential to dramatically accelerate decarbonisation across power, heat, industry and transport, while protecting our planet, and growing human prosperity.” Kirsty Gogan, Synergetic Co-Founder
Q1 2022 Investment: Deep Isolation
Deep Isolation Wins $3.6 Million DOE Grant to Develop Universal Nuclear Waste Disposal Canister for Advanced Reactor Spent Fuel
[The following is reprinted from Deep Isolation’s site.]
Deep Isolation, in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NAC International, has been awarded a $3.6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop a universal nuclear waste disposal canister for advanced reactor waste streams.
The project, one of two awarded today to Deep Isolation by the ARPA-E Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems program, will support the development of low-carbon advanced reactor power plants by establishing a universal canister design and waste form acceptance.
Deep Isolation Joins Oklo Inc., National Laboratories in Winning $4 Million DOE Grant for Spent Fuel Waste Reduction Project
Deep Isolation, Oklo Inc., and the Argonne and Idaho national laboratories have been jointly awarded $4 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States.
The project, one of two awarded to Deep Isolation today by the ARPA-E Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program, will commercialize a fuel recycling facility that will include, for the non-recyclable waste, the development of a final waste solution compatible with a deep borehole repository. It’s the first focused program working to identify pathways to reduce waste material and minimize the need for disposal sites, and it’s the first federally funded program to explore pairing a commercial borehole solution with a recycling facility for an advanced reactor.
Deep Isolation will be analyzing the waste streams that would be generated by the electrorefining facility to identify waste forms suitable for a deep borehole repository. It will also establish the technical and cost savings framework for using deep borehole repositories as a complement to electrorefining.
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in DEEP ISOLATION
[The following is a draft of a pre-announcement to LPs.]
For more information about DEEP ISOLATION, please see their website at deepisolation.com.
Nucleation Capital Floats SPV Giving its Pronuclear Investment Network access to equity in Deep Isolation
Anyone interested in learning about Nucleation’s syndicated offerings can sign up to receive the Nucleation Insights newsletter. Those interested in participating in Nucleation’s syndicates must be accredited but then they are able to join the Nucleation Syndicate at AngelList and get invited to participate in Nucleation’s syndicated offerings, such as Deep Isolation.
Elizabeth Muller and Richard Muller, co-founders and CEO and CSO of Deep Isolation, participated in the 2022 Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul in a panel on Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Wastes. The panel was moderated by Hwang Il Soon, Chair Professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), who has been leading a Korea national R&D program on microreactors for zero-emission vessels in support of global climate protection. Also participating was Seong Ik Oh, Director for overseas construction at Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Development.
Deep Isolation announced today that it is part of a team that has been selected to receive $4.9 million in funding as part of the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E CURIE program to develop and demonstrate oxide reduction (OR) technology for pyrochemical recycling of light water reactor used nuclear fuel (UNF).
The team, led by Argonne National Laboratory, also includes advanced reactor developer Oklo Inc., and Case Western Reserve University. CURIE, short for Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy, funds innovations in reprocessing technologies that aim to extract and recycle valuable actinides from used nuclear fuel that can then be used to power the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Deep Isolation will develop an integrated waste disposal plan using its cost-effective deep borehole repository technology for oxide reduction waste, while simultaneously determining ideal waste acceptance parameters through economic modeling to achieve program target metrics for reduced disposal costs as there will still be some volume of waste at the end of the OR process.
The project also includes a study to optimize the procurement of spent nuclear fuel for recycling into an advanced reactor.
Deep Isolation was further selected to take part in another selected CURIE project: It is participating in a $2.8 million project led by EPRI that will develop an advanced reactor fuel cycle enterprise.
Earlier this year, Deep Isolation received a $3.6 million grant to develop a universal nuclear waste disposal canister for advanced reactor waste streams and received part of a $4 million grant to Oklo and other partners to study borehole disposal options for the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States. Collectively, these projects will help expand applications of Deep Isolation’s technologies across a wider range of current and future fuel cycle options.
[Read more at: Deep Isolation to design waste disposal plan for Argonne National Lab’s $4.9M CURIE grant to develop spent nuclear fuel recycling processes, November, 2, 2022]
Q4 2021 Investment: Radiant Nuclear
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in RADIANT NUCLEAR
[The following was approved by Radiant for private release to our LPs.]
[Note: We are very pleased to have been able to participate in this funding round. Radiant and its venture lead were enthusiastic about including Nucleation Capital, despite an abundance interest from traditional VCs, largely because of Nucleation Capital’s unique focus on the Advanced Nuclear sector and the advantages we can provide based upon our deeper understanding of the technology, the industry and our connections within the industry.]
For more information about RADIANT NUCLEAR, please see their website at www.radiantnuclear.com.
RADIANT ANNOUNCES ITS FINANCING
On March 9, Fred Wilson of USV posted news of the investment by USV’s Climate fund in Radiant Nuclear, which round included Nucleation Capital.
USV’s Climate Thesis is to invest in companies and projects that provide mitigation for or adaptation to the climate crisis. One important way that we can both mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis is to use more nuclear energy. I wrote about this on my AVC blog last year and have been committed to finding one or more nuclear startups to invest in and work with since then.
I am excited to be able to say that I have found the first one and that company is Radiant.
Radiant designs and builds portable, low-cost one-megawatt nuclear fission microreactors that fit in a shipping container, power about 1,000 homes and use TRISO fuels and a helium coolant instead of water. This is what a Radiant microreactor will look like:
That system, which fits inside a shipping container, will power a remote community, commercial facility, military base, etc for upwards of five years before needing to be refueled. And that power will be sustained, clean, and cost-effective.
I have always been interested in networks of small-scale systems versus large centralized solutions. I grew up in the information technology business and have lived through the transition from mainframes, on which I did my first programming as a teenager, to minicomputers, to PCs, to PC networks, to the Internet. I believe that a massive network of small systems is more cost-effective, more reliable, more accessible, and better in every way than large centralized systems and my instinct is that this will be true in energy as well.
When we met Doug Bernauer and his co-founders, we found a team that has the right background, mindset, and commitment to pull something like this off. USV’s Climate Fund recently led a $10mm round that will take Radiant through a number of important milestones and get them closer to putting a system like this in the field.
Radiant is a small team of world-class engineers from a collection of key disciplines and they are looking to add a few more of them. They are particularly interested in the best engineers in the areas of Nuclear Core Design, Materials, Multiphysics Modeling, and Licensing. If you are one of those people, please go here and let them know you would like to join the Radiant team.
It will be a few more years before a system like the one shown above will go live somewhere, but when it does, it will be a new era in the age of nuclear energy and I can’t wait for that to happen.
Radiant Posts Video of its Technology
Radiant Extends Investment Round to include DCVC — March 28, 2022
Radiant extended its Series A round to bring in Data Collective Venture Capital (DCVC) and added Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh to its board. Adding DCVC brings in another great investment firm that strengthens Radiant’s investment backing considerably and paves the way for future growth.
Dr. Slaybaugh joined DCVC earlier this year after serving as a UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering professor, director of ARPA-e, founder of Berkeley’s Nuclear Bootcamp, and director of Cyclotron Road. Dr. Slaybaugh will provide a wealth of technical knowhow, connections and guidance to Radiant.
Radiant is excited to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for TRISO UCO fuel fabrication — Proposals due by November 30, 2022
Radiant posted the following notice on its website.
Radiant’s Kaleidos microreactor is powered by TRISO-coated UCO fuel. TRISO ensures each Kaleidos reactor will be meltdown-proof and able to reach higher burnup than traditional nuclear fuels. TRISO fuel has been called “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth” by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The structural layers in each poppy seed-sized TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) layered particle act as physical barriers to block the escape of fission products produced as the reactor operates. The uranium oxycarbide (UCO) fuel kernel reduces pressure on the TRISO layers by limiting CO and CO2 production throughout reactor operation.
Radiant is excited to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for TRISO UCO fuel fabrication. The Kaleidos fuel specification Radiant seeks to fabricate utilizes UCO kernel and TRISO layer geometry consistent with TRISO specifications already qualified. For more information, the RFP document may be reviewed HERE.
Proposal submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11/30/2022.
Radiant aims to be a driver of commercial microreactor development and seeks to provide economical, reliable, zero-emissions solutions to the climate crisis everyone faces today. By procuring fuel for a demonstration unit meant to operate in 2026, Radiant and a selected fabricator will take a large step to making this a reality.
Q3 2021 Investment: Core Power
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in CORE POWER
[The following is text approved by CORE Power for public release. Release was approved a few weeks later.]
CORE POWER is a UK-based development company, specializing in advanced scalable nuclear power technology for ocean transport and heavy industry. In partnership with leading international corporations, CORE POWER aims to deliver durable zero-emission energy for floating industrial production and deep-sea shipping.
CORE POWER is a member of the TerraPower, Southern Co., Orano consortium that applied for a United States Government’s Department of Energy (DoE) Risk Reduction grant and was successfully awarded $140 million by the DOE for work on a Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).
TerraPower is a privately held advanced nuclear venture founded by Bill Gates; Southern Company and Orano are highly experienced nuclear technology development and supply partners for the MCFR.
CORE POWER’s area of expertise is to develop the market for a maritime MCFR in applications ranging from clean production zero-carbon fuels to nuclear propulsion of large ships.
The consortium is working under a Joint Collaboration Agreement (JCA) where CORE POWER holds exclusive rights to maritime applications.
CORE POWER is targeting advanced nuclear propulsion for the largest 7,500 ships, responsible for 50% of global CO2 emissions from shipping, as well as designing production systems for the manufacture and production of green hydrogen based zero-carbon fuels on offshore production platforms.
Further applications of a maritime MCFR includes barge-mounted mobile power plants, rapid response water desalination tankers, deep-sea mining vessels, rapid plastics recycling, and reformation as well as floating production and industrial processing of minerals and soft commodities.
CORE POWER has deep ties within the ocean transportation industry with many of the company’s shareholders representing familiar names in that market. The current shareholder base either owns or operates more than 2,000 large ships which are in line to install the technology, once ready and licensed for maritime use.
The Company recently completed a second round of funding (Series B-1). Aside from Nucleation Capital, there were no other VC firms in this deal. Instead, most of the $15.4 million raised came from owners and managers of some of the largest shipping companies in the world.
CORE POWER’s Founder, Chairman and CEO has 30 years of experience working in the shipping industry, at a senior level, in technology, finance, transport and commodities. These relationships are a major strategic asset and CORE POWER anticipates earning interim revenue from these prospective customers by working to help them prepare their fleets for conversion to the MCFR.
CORE POWER’s equity is leveraged 4-to-1 by the private capital provided by their consortium partners, TerraPower, Southern and Orano. This total capital is further leveraged 4-to-1 by the $140 million non-dilutive 80/20 cost-share grant from the U.S. DOE, which we believe aids the consortium’s and CORE POWER’s prospects for success considerably.
[Note: We are very pleased to have been able to participate in this funding round. The absence of other VCs only emphasizes just how unique Nucleation Capital is and how potentially instrumental we can be in bridging the funding gap in this sector.]
For more information about CORE POWER, please see their website at www.corepower.energy
TerraPower Consortium Signs Risk Reduction Agreement with the DOEOn November 18, Southern Company and Idaho National Laboratory announced the signing of a $170 million cost share agreement entered into with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the proof of concept Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment. These tandem announcements make reference to the fact that applications in ocean transportation and other marine uses are the purview of CORE POWER. Southern Co.’s Press Release The Idaho National Lab Press release Learn more about CORE POWER here. Follow CORE POWER on Twitter. Follow CORE POWER on LinkedIn.
Update from CORE POWER
CORE completed our B-1 funding round last month. This Series B-1 covers CORE’s share of the ‘Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment’ development currently underway at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) with our consortium partners TerraPower, Southern Co. and Orano.
MCRE will be the world’s first fast-spectrum salt-fuelled nuclear fission reactor, and is a vital precursor to the eventual commercialisation of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) that can be deployed in such a game-changing fashion for future maritime and floating energy applications.
To support that program and to engage with U.S. regulators and stakeholders CORE opened a U.S office in Washington, D.C. in early November. They will build a presence in Washington to grow this part of the business throughout 2022 and beyond.
As the COP 26 spotlight fell on Scotland, both shipping and advanced nuclear energy were central on the agenda at the recent COP26 in Glasgow.
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry, at the unveiling of the net-zero by 2050 declaration of several countries (led by the U.S., Denmark, and Marshall Islands), pointed out that the U.S. Navy has an impeccable track record of nuclear propulsion over 67 years—never lost a crew member, never had a spill. . .
COP26 also saw the birth of the ‘Clydebank Declaration’, a formation of ‘green’ corridors to assist infrastructure development for synthetic fuels, and also a First Movers Coalition to accelerate technology advancements in hard-to-abate-sectors such as shipping. The MSR can play a central role in all these initiatives to produce cheap, green zero-carbon fuels on floating refineries at key junction points under this agreement.
Talk of nuclear being ‘excluded’ from the talks proved to be far from the case. French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire summarised it well when he said that ‘Nuclear energy is not a question of ideology, but a question of maths‘.
As countries continue to grasp that the need for carbon-free, dispatchable baseload power is going to be fundamental in meeting climate goals, several nations announced land-based SMR (small modular reactor) projects, often replacing coal-fired power on their grids in projects that could be seen as ‘low hanging fruit’ in the climate transition.
The decision by TerraPower to site their new Natrium reactor (which also features a molten salt energy storage system) at a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer in Wyoming by 2027, was further evidence of this.
Investors in Japan are paying attention too. A CORE POWER press briefing on the MSR in early October, led to an exciting panel discussion of the MSR at Bari-Ship 2021 and profiled as a viable solution for decarbonization of large ships.
Update from CORE POWER: UK adopts ‘Nuclear Code’ for merchant ships
The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that they will transpose SOLAS Chapter VIII into UK Law in the autumn of 2022. This is a milestone in the regulatory pathway for ships powered by advanced nuclear.
This Annex of SOLAS includes the ‘Nuclear Code’ (Resolution A.491.Xii) for merchant ships which was adopted at the IMO in 1981. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, on behalf of the DfT, undertook a consultation on the proposed legislation during the second half of 2021.
The UKMCA has now published their summary of responses received and simultaneously confirmed their “intention to progress making the Regulations as planned…[and]…does not intend to significantly amend the prepared draft legislation“.
The ‘Nuclear Code’ is now over 40 years old, and needs overhaul and updating, but what is important is that the government has acknowledged that an overwhelming majority “agreed that there is an appetite for nuclear ships over the next 10 years with growing interest for nuclear propulsion for large ocean-going vessels.”
Implementing the SOLAS Chapter VIII requirements and building strong ties with others, including the US, will increase the likelihood of UK flagged nuclear powered ships and reinforce the broader maritime safety regime.”
To learn more, see Core Power’s Merchant Shipping (Nuclear Ships) Regs to become UK law in 2022.
CORE POWER launched a Client Program where the maritime and nuclear industries will meet to design the clean energy solutions needed to decarbonize shipping.
Corporate members of the program participate in discussions shaping national and international regulations; discover and adapt new floating power solutions; and engage with industry experts to solve unique new energy challenges. Those joining will enjoy:
- Monthly releases of unique analyst briefings and research on new energy technologies and solutions.
- Monthly technical, regulatory, and modelling update meetings.
- 3x annual in-person industry gatherings in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
- Regulatory task force participation.
- Technical working group participation.
- Commercial, economic and finance working group participation.
- Engagement with industry experts.
- Access to new unique design and engineering services to create specific solutions for your organisation.
Core Power will hold two webinars on 13th July 2022 to introduce the program and provide interested parties and chance to learn more. There will be a morning session for Europe and Asia time zones and an afternoon session for Europe and American time zones.
The UK Maritime Coastguard Agency consulted with members of the UK maritime sector during 2021, including Core Power, and concluded that there is an appetite for nuclear ships over the next 10 years with growing interest for nuclear propulsion for large ocean-going vessels. Now, the UK Department for Transport (DfT), via the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency, has set a target date of November 22nd, for passing the Merchant Shipping (Nuclear Ships) Regulations into law. In anticipation, Core Power will be hosting a symposium on Sept. 19, 2022 on the use of nuclear in maritime in London. Topics covered during the full day event will include:
- New nuclear vessels and floating power designs discovery – how do they work and why?
- How do we keep new nuclear safe and secure at sea? What are the rules?
- How are new class rules formed for floating nuclear power and nuclear electric propulsion?
- How are nuclear materials transported so safely? What can we learn from the safety culture and security by design of nuclear transport?
- How does maritime interests influence the work of the IAEA? What’s being done and how?
- A fundamental analysis of the key criteria for new nuclear in maritime, including the Emergency Planning Zone and the impact on liability. How does it work and why?
- How are offshore installations superior to land-based plants in speed, cost, flexibility and resilience? How do we combine maritime with new nuclear power to reduce fossil fuel dependence?
To view the full program and to sign up to attend, please go to the Core Power website.
The DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) has granted research funding to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Core Power, to undertake a two year study into the development of offshore floating nuclear power generation in the United States, Core Power reported.
The NEUP financing will enable a thorough, cooperative investigation into the operational, safety, security, and legal elements of floating advanced nuclear power generation and take a close look at every step of developing, running, maintaining, and decommissioning these specialist facilities. The grant will enable Core Power to work with the MIT Energy team, to develop a ground-breaking plan to bring advanced nuclear to the maritime market. The study will proceed concurrently with the proof-of-concept prototype molten salt reactor being built at the Idaho Nation Laboratory.
New research conducted at the Dutch technical university TU Delft for C-Job Naval Architects is the latest to conclude nuclear energy could be applied as marine propulsion in the future. According to the independent ship design company, nuclear technology has seen several interesting developments and should be considered for future maritime applications.
The research identified large ocean-going vessels as having the most potential for nuclear propulsion. By creating four different concepts (bulk, container, tanker, and offshore), key items were analyzed, including the mass and volume of the energy storage and power generation system. It shows that, even though the shield around the reactor is a significant portion of the respective mass and volume of the nuclear power generation system, in most cases, the nuclear option is lighter and more compact than the conventional marine diesel option.
One of the key attractions driving the new interest in nuclear propulsion for commercial shipping is the solution for eliminating carbon emissions. Compared to conventional fuel-based systems, the research highlights that there can be up to a 98 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the air pollution emissions, such as SOx, PM, and NOx, are eliminated.
While nuclear marine propulsion has a high capital expenditure, the research shows it to be cost-effective within five to fifteen years depending on fuel cost and the vessel’s operational profile. Furthermore, nuclear marine propulsion offers the potential to consider higher design speeds, making the ship more profitable. This is because fuel cost (OPEX) only grows marginally with higher speeds where ultimately the main limiting factor would be the CAPEX of the installation with more power.
Based on the research, C-Job, like others exploring the field, is drawn to the benefits of the Molten Salt Reactor. They concluded that it has the most potential in the long term for commercial shipping. The combination of passive safety, high burn-up, and the future potential to use the thorium cycle make it the best fit for maritime application said C-Job.
[Read more at: The Maritime Executive, Research: Large Commercial Ships Have Most Potential for Nuclear Power, Aug. 30, 2022.]
The Breakthrough Institute reported that TerraPower, Bill Gates’ nuclear company, and Southern Company have built a test rig to do preparatory work for TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR). Called the Integrated Effects Test, the system, which is non-nuclear and heated with electricity, will be used to test the accuracy of computer models of thermal hydraulics, or how fluid and heat move through the system. The Integrated Effects Test is the largest chloride salt system in the world developed by the nuclear sector and will be instrumental in helping to develop the project team’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor technology.
The MCFR is the reactor that Core Power holds the license for deploying for use in marine environments and this test system is an important step in the design. In the working reactor, the molten chloride would be the coolant, the material that carries off heat so it can be converted to a form that can do useful work, and also the fuel, as it would have dissolved in it materials that can be fissioned. “Fast” means that neutrons that are released are not “moderated,” or slowed down, by the coolant or other materials. This enables those high-energy neutrons to convert and consume more nuclear materials as fuel.
[Read more at: The DOE’s website, Southern Company Services and TerraPower Build World’s Largest Chloride Salt System, Oct. 18, 2022.]