Potential advantages of molten salt reactor for merchant ship propulsion

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Brazilian Journal of Radiation Sciences
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Operating costs of merchant ships, related to fuel costs, has led the naval industry to search alternatives to the current technologies of propulsion power. A possibility is to employ nuclear reactors like the Russian KLT-40S, which is a pressurized water reactor (PWR) and has experience on civilian surface vessels. However, space and weight are critical factors in a nuclear propulsion project, in addition to operational safety and costs. This work aims at comparing molten salt reactors (MSR) with PWR for merchant ship propulsion. The present study develops a qualitative analysis on weight, volume, overnight costs, fuel costs and nuclear safety. This work compares the architecture and operational conditions of these two types of reactors. The result is that MSR may produce lower amounts of high-activity nuclear tailings and, if it adopts the U233-thorium cycle, it may have lower risks of proliferating nuclear weapons. Besides proliferation issues, this 4th generation reactor may have lower weight, occupy less space, and achieve the same levels of safety with less investment. Thus, molten salt regenerative reactors using the U233-thorium cycle are potential candidates for use in ship propulsion.

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FREITAS NETO, LUIZ G. de; FREIRE, LUCIANO O.; SANTOS, ADIMIR dos; ANDRADE, DELVONEI A. de. Potential advantages of molten salt reactor for merchant ship propulsion. Brazilian Journal of Radiation Sciences, v. 9, n. 2B, p. 1-18, 2021. DOI: 10.15392/bjrs.v9i2B.1466. Disponível em: http://repositorio.ipen.br/handle/123456789/32158. Acesso em: 23 Feb 2024.
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